When the New Year’s Eve Ball dropped in Times Square, nobody had a better view than the 12 New York City high school students who got to stand next to Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he lowered the New Year’s Eve Ball.
Fiona Porkka, a senior at the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, is a top student at the school, excelling academically while participating actively in extracurricular activities and holding down a part-time job. Porkka kept a diary for The Courier documenting her day and took photos of the scene.
8 a.m. Woke up, can’t fall back asleep. I know I should, but my brain won’t shut off.
9 a.m. Just got out of bed.
9:13 a.m. Breakfast. I’m not really hungry, but I’m not nervous either.
Brushed my teeth for the second time today.
5:14 p.m. Brushed teeth for third time today.
I think that I can admit now that I’m nervous. We’re leaving soon. I’m getting ready. I’m not sure what to wear, really. The lady at City Hall, I think her name was Sophie, said to where what I felt was comfortable. Hmmm.
Clothing crisis over. We’re leaving the house and heading to Rego Park to take the V train. Taking the 7 somehow seems like a bad idea.
6:46 p.m. Wow, it took exactly an hour to get to 50th and 6th, Rockefeller Plaza. We’re hanging out in the relative warmth of the train station. We’re almost two hours early. It’s quiet underground so I can’t really get a sense of all the people. The Starbucks is closed, though. And there was a girl with these bright purple tights.
We’re out in the open now, heading to 46th and 6th to meet with the people from the Times Square Alliance. We’re now a little over half an hour early. There’s another girl there. She seems nice.
We decided it’s time to call the organizers. I mean, maybe if it was a little warmer we’d wait a little longer. Other students start showing up too. Henrique shows up with his brother (I think) and his mom. His mom has an umbrella with cats on it. I find his adamant refusal to be anywhere near it hilarious. Some comedy show guy walked up to us, asking if we wanted to get past the police barrier. Sorry, but I think we’re going to have better spots than what you can offer us.
8:41 p.m. We’ve just been escorted to the Times Square Alliance building. I still can’t get a sense of the crowd. I know that there has to be about a million people around the corner, but all I can hear is the music blasting from the speakers. It’s really warm inside, and I’m not quite as nervous as I was five minutes ago. All the other students are… well, cooler than I thought they would be. I hate to admit it, but I thought they’d be all stuffy.
9:01 p.m. We just got comfortable. They’re serving sandwiches and juice, not exactly the most luxurious, but it’s all good. I don’t have much of an appetite anyway.
Okay, after sitting for forever and getting blown off by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, we’ve been escorted out to the stage for the concert with Jennifer Lopez. Everyone seems a little confused, and definitely more than a little stressed. We were moved immediately after we got to the stage. I guess they want us to take a picture with the Mayor. Oh, politicians and their photo-ops. On the steps of the TKTS… uh, steps, I finally get a true sense of the crowd. Even being escorted by police through the crowd didn’t give me this sense. There are so many people…
We’re back at the stage, watching Jennifer Lopez. I could sound more excited, but to tell the truth I don’t really listen to anything she’s done. There’s a certain energy she carries, though, and the backup dancers are amazing! When they’re done, steam is literally coming off of them.
The show’s over, and we’re escorted to the stage. The mayor is there again. We go through a dry run of button pushing procedure. Luckily, if we mess up, the ball will still drop on time. The button isn’t really attached to anything. The roar of the crowd is drowned out by the volume of the music blasting through speakers all around us. Everyone’s excited. The mayor asks us what colleges we want to attend. I sort of stumble over my answer, but finally come up with Yale. I aim high.
We push the button. The crowd roars. We try and count down from 60, but realize how awkward that is. We start counting down again at 10.
Holy… you have never heard this much noise in your life. I… I don’t really have the words to describe just what it felt like to stand on stage while a million people are celebrating all around you. When we get off the stage, I’m exhausted, but still smiling. We can see Anderson Cooper on a stage above us. He doesn’t hear us call his name. I don’t feel offended.
We’re on the train home… there are less people than I thought there would be. I suppose most New Yorkers try to avoid this sort of thing.
1:18 a.m. We’re in the car. It’s a lot colder in Queens than it was in Times Square.
1:46 a.m.Just got home. So tired.