Monday, December 19, 2011

Tuba Christmas in NYC

Last Sunday, December 11th, Alyssa and I chaperoned students from the Penn State Blue Band on their trip to New York City for the 38th Annual Tuba Christmas at Rockefeller Center.  Traveling student groups apparently need responsible adults along for the trip; when the Blue Banders couldn't find any, they asked us!  AP and I were chomping at the bit to get back to NYC; we hadn't been there in TWO YEARS!  Considering we were in NYC at least three times in one year (2009), it was highly unprecedented for us to go that long without visiting the Big Apple.  I'm sure now that we've had a fresh taste of the city, we'll be back at regular intervals.

But back to the Tuba Christmas trip!  We met at the Blue Band Building at 5 AM and quickly loaded the bottom of the bus full of tubas and baritones before loading the top of the bus with 24 people!  

AP and I spent the first half hour of the trip catching up before we settled into our seats (we each had our own set of two seats) to sleep for a bit.  We stopped somewhere just inside of New Jersey at a McDonald's for breakfast and then we were back on the road.  We...well, the bus driver...made great time, despite the 68 MPH limiter installed on the bus (so he said).  We arrived in the city just before 10 AM.  The driver dropped us off on 47th Street between 5th and 6th, so the kids had to walk two blocks over to Radio City Music Hall to register for the event and store their horns during the downtime prior to the concert.

Walking down the ramp into the bowels of Radio City Music Hall.


After we were satisfied that the kids were settled and OK, we set off to do some shopping before planning to return to Rockefeller Center for the concert at 3:30 PM.  We made our way to Times Square and then walked down 7th Avenue to get to Macy's Herald Square.  Before we went into Macy's, I bought a pretzel from a street vendor (having eschewed the McDonald's fare earlier in the morning) and we decided to shop at H&M first.  I promptly stowed my pretzel in my purse, thus creating "the purse pretzel"...convenient snacking while shopping!  After H&M, we headed over to Macy's - 10 floors of fantabulousness!!!


T.R. Pescod - Friend of Ina Garten and super hottie!

Roaming carolers in Macy's.

I found this comfy chair in Macy's while waiting for AP to checkout.  We took each others' pictures sitting in it as a joke based on what we saw another couple doing earlier in the furniture department (you had to be there).

This billboard was in almost every shot of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

After we left Macy's, we headed back up Broadway and back to Times Square.  We stopped for lunch at O'Donoghue's Bar and Restaurant.  And what lunch at an Irish pub is complete without a Smithwick's?  None that I've had!  From O'Donoghue's, we walked over toward Bryant Park, stopping first in the HBO Store.  I was paralyzed by indecision when it came to "Game of Thrones" merchandise, so I didn't buy anything.  I've seen better "Winter is Coming" t-shirts online.  (House of Stark, FTW!)  We then walked around Bryant Park, checking out the vendors.  

We left Bryant Park and started back toward Rockefeller Center to catch the Tuba Christmas Concert.  Rock Center was PACKED!!!  I barely managed to snag a few pictures because of the crowds.  502 musicians participated in this year's event and they sounded wonderful!

Once the concert ended, we were going to meet the kids so they could go "caroling" around the city with their instruments.  While we were standing around in Rockefeller Center, we took pictures with the Christmas tree.

And then it happened.  I saw him!  NYPD Officer McDaniel.  Rewind three years to December 2008 when AP, her mom, her aunt Wanda, and I took the train to the city for a few days.  One morning we were at Rockefeller Center and I saw Officer McDaniel.  (I have a history of seeking out hot NYPD officers and getting my picture with them.)  When I asked him if I could have my picture taken with him, he not only agreed, he put his hat on my head.

So, like I said, we're walking through Rock Center and wham!  There he is!  Officer McDaniel, in the flesh and still hot as ever!!!  I told AP I needed to get my picture with him again, so we walked over, I explained how we'd done this three years ago and asked for a repeat performance.  As if on cue, he hands me his hat, puts his arm around me, and smiles a big hot smile for the camera.  <sigh>

He told me not to go so long between visits next time; I endorse that plan.  Ha-ha-ha!!! 

After our encounter with Officer McDaniel, we called Beau (from the Blue Band) to find out where they were.  Since they were still "down below" at Radio City, we walked over to meet them.  Once we had everyone together, it was decided they would roam the streets and play on street corners.  Off we went!

The first corner the kids picked was about a block down from Radio City.  The crowd that gathered was very friendly, welcoming, and appreciative.  From there, the kids decided they wanted to play in Times Square, so that's where we headed next!  They played the mash-up of "Beautiful Girls/Stand By Me" as we walked the streets of NYC.  It was quite cool!

On a street corner near Times Square.

In the MIDDLE of Times Square (so cool!!!).

Loved the Christmas lights on this tuba!

I like the reflection of the crowd gathered in the bell of this baritone.
Here's a video of one of the songs the kids played.  Do yourself a favor; watch it ON YouTube.  It's so tiny here (I don't know why).  

While we were standing in Times Square, I noticed a MASSIVE billboard for the new NBC show "Smash" coming "the Monday after the Super Bowl."  I'll watch it.  All of the commercials during the Thanksgiving parade hooked me.  That and knowing Jack Davenport is in it.  Who's Jack Davenport, you say?!?  THIS is Jack Davenport:

He played Commodore Norrington in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.
Following the kids' performance in Times Square, we all made our way back to 47th Street to meet the bus and head home.  It took us a while to get out of the city, as the Lincoln Tunnel was quite backed up so we opted for the GW Bridge instead.  Once we were rolling on the highway, we started watching Wall-E.  We stopped somewhere in New Jersey for dinner at Wendy's.  We got back on the road at 8:45 and the driver estimated we were about 3 hours and 15 minutes away from home.  I called Chris to let him know what time I'd get home and settled in to sleep as much as possible for the next three hours.  I succeeded in sleeping quite a bit of the way home once Wall-E ended.  We pulled up to the Blue Band Building at 11:55 PM and quickly unloaded the bus before everyone went their separate ways.  I was home and in bed at 12:30 AM, 21 hours after I'd gotten up.  It was a long and exhausting day, but it was a blast!  I'm already looking forward to our next NYC adventure!!!