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Christmas in NYC: Is it Worth It?

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For me, Christmas in New York City was like something you see in the movies. It was like a present gift-wrapped in glitter paper and tagged with my name. Except, instead of opening it and seeing that is was the gift I had always wanted, it was exactly the opposite. 

Despite the fact that the weather in NYC is ungodly cold during the winter months, the twinling lights that began to line the streets in November were enough to tempt me to brace the houtdoors. Somehow, the atmosphere of ice-skating completely changed when the sky was dark and the lights around the rink lit up the ice. On one chilly December night, my friends and I were out shuffling around  Times Square, bundled in our coats, hats, and scarves. We window-shopped in the high-end stores around Rockefeller that were all warm and glittery on the inside. Although, they did serve more as a place to warm our feet and hands as we pretended to be interested in designer coats and fantasized about which sparkly dress we would buy if we had the funds. The Rockefeller Ice Rink looked stunning with the golden Prometheus sculpture and the line was surprisingly quick for the time we went. The problem we ran into was the pricing. We shortly found out that if we wanted to experience the rink, we’d have to shell out over $60. And that was not in our price range. So, we journeyed all the way to Central Park which had a more reasonable price of about $35 dollars for each of us. 

Skating at Central Park was less of a hand-holding affair on the perfect date like you see in the movies, and more so trying to look like I was having a good time while actually struggling not to fall. I definitely went into it thinking all those skating lessons when I was nine would just come back to me and click when I hit the ice. The figure skater in me did not just click. It was actually an in-between where the fear and defiance of falling and the exciting wonders of gliding on ice with a pair of sharp blades turned into a weird type of enjoyment, because almost everyone at the rink was feeling the same way. Excluding teenage hockey players who think it’s really cool to recklessly speed skate around everyone just trying to have a good time. Which was not very unhelpful when only some people could skate in straight lines. 

When I think back on it, ice-skating in NYC is worth it. Everyone needs to experience it at least once, whether you take a shot at Rockefeller or opt for Central Park. I saw horses on the street who looked just as cold as I did. There was an engagement on the ice and after everyone clapped we all went around in circles again. Something about being on the ice at night in the middle of the city with Christmas music playing is a little, dare I say it, magical. 

A not-so worth-it experience was the Christmas Tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. There were lines right off the subway; the kind that more-so resemble a giant crowd of people standing around and asking, “Is this the line?” To answer that, yes, everything is a line at Christmas time. My friend and I decided to just submerge ourselves into the crowd. But once we were in, it was hard getting out. We attempted to push our way towards the tree until we found ourselves at a standstill in front of a big-screen. It was then that we realized we could have just stayed home and watched the same musical performances from the comfort of our warm beds. Ditching that after a few songs, we found ourselves in another crowd outside the giant Christmas ribbon lights on the Cartier and Salvatore Ferragamo buildings. There were lines corralled in by ropes and police officers. We snapped a picture from a good enough distance and decided it was high-time to find out way out. We couldn’t move back, however. We could only go forward. I dashed for an exit at the first chance I saw and turned around to hope my friend was following only to see a group of people escaping with me ushering me to keep going. I said I had lost my friend and they looked at me with, “Sorry, not my problem” faces as they scurried past me. 

As for the tree, I didn’t get to see it until a few weeks later. I walked up to it, took a picture, and walked away. So all and all, the Rockefeller tree doesn’t really live up to all the hype. If you are going to try your hand at getting up close to it, some must-sees in the area around the holidays Radio City, the giant red ornaments, Magnolia’s Bakery, and FAO Schwarz. Now that’s what I call worth it. 


written by
Haley Mitchell
December 18, 2019