Destinations - Articles - New York, New York

  • Times Square on New Year's Eve
  • Exploring the Brooklyn "ruins"

Times Square on New Year's Eve Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

I spent New Year's Eve at the greatest party in the world.

There is no place -- and I mean no place -- more exciting than being in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

This year, I was at an office party, right next door to the Hard Rock Cafe, so close to where the ball drops, I thought I would see my reflection in the crystal. I spent hours hanging out the open office window, being rained upon by confetti and balloons.. It didn't matter that the temperature on the billboard read six degrees at one point. I was warmed by the zeal of hundreds of thousands of people, gathered as far as the eye could see, thrilled to be part of the festivities that, prior to this incredible night, they had only seen on television. That passion is contagious.

It didn't matter that I had met many of the people at the office party for the first time that night, and that a number of them were from different parts of the world. There are no strangers in New York City on New Year's Eve. We're one collective pulse; the heartbeat of this vibrant city. Music has a way of uniting people, too, and we were at the biggest outdoor concert on the planet. The streets carried the sounds of Lionel Richie's live and enthusiastic version of "Dancin' on the Ceiling." Elton John was out there in the cold, making our hearts melt with his performance of John Lennon's "Imagine." Taylor Swift sang, "God Bless America," and the Jonas Brothers made a million people scream just by walking on stage.

Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and Mayor Bloomberg were right there, ringing in the new year with us. Where else but at the Crossroads of the World could we celebrate new beginnings with such a diverse group that included friends, acquaintances, top entertainers, an ex-president, a future secretary of state, and the mayor?

When the giant billboard shouted the countdown, the crowd roared, fanatical about the opportunities and experiences the new year might bring. It's that hope, that possibility of making dreams come true next year, that binds us. There's no other way I'd rather start the new year, and no where else I'd rather be.

For more information, contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza


Exploring the Brooklyn "ruins" Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

I've climbed the Machu Picchu. I've crawled through the pyramids in Egypt. Now I can say I've explored the "secret" tunnel beneath busy Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

On Sunday, March 7th, I climbed down a ladder placed into an open manhole on Atlantic Avenue to begin our underground journey, and learn the fascinating history of our borough.

Trucks and cars zoomed above us, but we didn't hear a sound, as we entered a world of darkness, lit only by flashlights we had brought with us.

Mounds of dirt were piled high in this first part of the tunnel, an archeological site. This is what Brooklyn's Bob Diamond, then a 19-year-old college student, had to dig through in 1980 to unearth a second area -- the world's first subway, built in 1844 to bring passengers from our area to Boston. There, people could sail ships that would transport them worldwide. It's my understanding that this long haul never materialized, but interestingly, the shipping company evolved into Cunard Cruise Lines, which owns the Queen Mary 2, that now happens to sail from the Brooklyn piers.

We crouched our way through the first part of the tunnel, and squeezed through a hole in the wall. On that other side, we climbed a makeshift staircase down into the actual tunnel. Here, we were greeted by Bob himself, who led us through the entire length of the tunnel, providing colorful commentary and anecdotes, each step of the way. It was interesting to learn, for example, that people busted the tunnel during the early 1900's, in search of "weapons of mass destruction" believed to be buried here. We saw the holes.

The atmosphere of the tunnel is damp, and a comfortable 60 degrees. We wore old clothes and sturdy boots as the ground is dirty and rocky. The impressions of the actual rail tracks were evident throughout many parts of the tunnel. They are on one side, Bob explained, because horses used to transport passengers on the opposite side. Imagine trains, horses, and people all working their way through this huge tunnel in complete darkness.

As fascinating as the tunnel is, what's even more intriguing is learning how Bob, single-handedly, discovered this tunnel that countless experts and scholars assured him did not exist. It's a powerful lesson about determination, research, and hard work.

We hiked to the opposite end of the tunnel, which is sealed by rock. If all goes as planned, this barrier is expected to be broken, and old steam engines may be discovered. It is rumored that pages of John Wilkes Booth's diary may also be there.

As everyone who has traveled the world in search of "ruins" knows, it's not about viewing piles of rocks. It's about learning, listening to the stories, and understanding history. How incredible that this rich history lies beneath one of the busiest streets in our borough, unbeknown to so many. What a great way to spend the day. Additional information, photos, and a dose of the past can be found at the website: www.brooklynrail.net.

For more information, contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza