One of the longstanding holiday traditions in Columbus is BalletMet’s performance of The Nutcracker at the historic Ohio Theatre, in the heart of downtown Columbus. Every year central Ohioans pack the theater to enjoy Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday music and the dance stylings of Columbus’ local ballet troupe.
And tonight, Christmas Eve, the children will nestle all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads.
Times Square was hopping this afternoon when we visited after our show ended and as the sun began to set behind the concrete canyons of Gotham. We knew it would be crowded, but who can resist a chance to see the Great White Way, revel in the conspicuous consumption of kilowatts, and feel the electrical meters turn as they did when Clark Griswold finally got his Christmas lights to turn on in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?
The other day we visited The High Line park, located on Manhattan’s west side. It is one of the coolest, most interesting parks I’ve ever seen.
The High Line is a park built on an abandoned, elevated freight line. When you walk the park you are strolling along a path several stories above the ground. The railroad tracks — which are still visible in certain parts of the park — have been supplemented by walking paths, the areas around the paths have been planted with different greenery and grasses, and at different points the park features unique bird feeders, seating areas, and plenty of good photo opportunities, including fine views of the top of the Empire State Building in the distance. It is wonderful to be able to walk unimpeded by surging traffic and rocketing yellow cabs and jostling crowds and appreciate the interesting vistas offered by this little corner of New York City.
The High Line winds its way from New York’s meatpacking district to West 30th Street, moving past businesses and residential buildings. You stroll past rooftops, warehouses, billboards, office spaces, backyard grilling areas, and other urban scenes. It is a whimsical journey, to walk so far above the streets of New York, and at least some of the people who live in the neighboring buildings — including the folks who put up the painted window scene at left — have recognized it and treated it as such.
What a great idea this park was! It took what was a rusting, derelict structure reflective of urban blight and converted it into a gem of a park that attracts visitors and attention to the neighborhood and has brought restaurants, bars, and residents to the area. The High Line is owned by the City of New York and maintained and operated by the Friends of the High Line. If only every city government and civic group were as creative and far-sighted in deciding how to deal with aging city structures!
According to Ordinance 330(j) of the New York City Municipal Code, if you are in the Big Apple in December you are required to visit the holiday decorations at Rockefeller Center at least once. (The Rockettes, however, are optional).
Yesterday, we satisfied our legal obligations.
The area around Rockefeller Center was jammed. The skaters were there, and so was the towering Christmas tree, and golden Prometheus was floating above the ice rink, bringing fire to the chilled masses. An officious, leather-lunged police officer was trying desperately to keep people from standing on benches to take photos. Good luck with that, officer!
After slowly moving through the throng, dodging mothers who were aggressively using their children’s strollers to clear a path through the madness and commenting on how the tree was not as large as we thought it would be, we exited on the Fifth Avenue side, past a gantlet of trumpeting angels. A Salvation Army group was pumping out Christmas music, and the Christmas spirit was heavy in the air.