If there's a Christmas capital city, New York is it -- and Rockefeller Plaza is the inner sanctum of the holiday world.
When I worked in that neighborhood, I often ventured out at lunchtime in December to shop in the underground Art Deco mall. Twinkling lights and delicious scents of chocolate and baking drew shoppers to little stores in spite of our busy schedules. Above ground, I'd take in the upscale shops, legendary decorations (including the breathtaking, massive trumpeting angels flanking the central walkway up to the ice rink), and happy revelers on skates and off.
One afternoon, after popping into the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store in the plaza, I emerged to what could only be called a mob: Somehow, tourists and passers-by had managed to cluster so thickly at the corner where the stores face the ice rink that I was soon within arms' length of several others.
Then, suddenly, I was closer than that: The space between us closed, and I was body-to-body in a holiday throng.
Strollers, wheelies, umbrellas, briefcases, shopping bags… all was somehow jammed into a moving human mass of which I was just another tiny molecule. We moved along as one, swelling toward the walls, then shifting toward the rink.
Panic rose in me as I realized I wasn't getting out without pushing. And so I did, gently at first, then more firmly, motivated by a claustrophobia I didn't know I had. Suddenly, I broke free. Trying not to trample a couple of children, I managed to work my way over to 50th Street, where I broke into a swift walk back toward 6th Avenue and my office tower.
The Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza, New York City. (Photo credit: Alsandro, via Wikimedia)
Is it worth braving this kind of thing to see New York at holiday time? I think it is. But stay wary -- and watch that umbrella.
Mary Jander, a visitor to NYC.
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