Out with the COVID, in with the crowds! Why I’m thankful for Big Apple clog heaven

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Welcome again to New York City, in all your overcrowded, unclean, patience-tested glory. The good redemption for the “ghost town” that the world’s media warned us was to be our permanent destiny.

I hate loud noises. I hate overcrowding. But I say this to the Big Apple on this golden, parade-redux Thanksgiving holiday:

Be as loud and crowded as possible. The trumpet player of the sidewalk, blow your rusty horns on the tops of the skyscrapers. Bongo drummers wake up groups of the living dead under “pavement bridges”.

Enough Pandemic and its close cousin, “Is It Over?” The temporary, abundance-of-careful, masked version (to use that distasteful word).

The notoriously stiff crank that I am, might just change my tune six months from now. Today, I am loving the myriad daily inhumane episodes whose 20-month absence has cost them dearly.

The slow-moving tourist in town who asks where is Wall Street: Guys, you’re on Wall Street, can I help you with something else?

I love that friends say they can’t get Thanksgiving reservations at any of the restaurants in town because they’re already booked.

I like to pick my way around sidewalk vendors selling junky wooden animals on Sixth Avenue in Midtown. I loved steering through a “Welcome to the office” party for a law firm in the building where I work.

Now it’s time New Yorkers can share a kiss on the rink without raving about politicians’ masks.
Noam Galai/Getty Images

The zillion-decibel dine at Scoto restaurant by Hawksmoor, Gage & Tollner, Le Bilboquet, Carne Mare, Clocktower, Hutong, Polo Bar, Cellini, Nobu Fifty Seven and Fresco was music to my 71-year-old’s ears. The view of the crowd in the lobby and lounge of the Carlyle Hotel made me swoon.

In Bloomingdale’s men’s department, I (almost) enjoyed hunting for help because the sales guys were busy with longtime customers.

The long wait for the Apple Store Genius Bar was more soothing than infuriating. The Starbucks barista, brought to a virtual standstill to re-face with multiple orders at once, mesmerized me.

I’m thrilled to see young people hoping for tickets to “Saturday Night Live” on the sidewalks of Rockefeller Center whose performers weren’t allowed into the same room last year.

Subway crowds are the best. Trains are refilling – yet running upwards, not to pre-pandemic levels. Not only in heavily trafficked Manhattan but on the J Line to Brooklyn’s Broadway Junction, the elevated station of my childhood that was very lonely a few months ago.

If you like to watch parades on TV, know that having more people around makes everyone safer. It is no coincidence that metro crime has started to decline as trains become fuller. The annoying Elmos of Times Square and the crowds they draw may be better crime deterrents than cops on horses.

A woman throws leaves at herself in Central Park on November 19, 2021 in New York City.
After a year of heinous lockdowns and mandates, it’s time for New Yorkers to have fun in Central Park.
Alexey Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Anyone with the heart, mind or an ounce of affection for Gotham should rejoice.

True, there was little consolation during last year’s lockdown and the over and over again, masked-off, mask-on reopening of Purgatory.

I took some time to enjoy the immense peace of Central Park, with hardly anyone around. When the lobby in my 360 apartment building was devoid of life and the chairs at a crime scene were sealed with yellow tape, I didn’t miss the noise of the kids.

Pikachu and Eevee balloons are inflated in preparation for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 24, 2021.
Pikachu and Eevee balloons are inflated in preparation for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 24, 2021.
Reuters / Carlo Allegri

On August 1, 2020, I even wrote that a small blessing of the lockdown was its “civilizing” effect on the tourist-stricken city.

I complained that the pre-pandemic city was a “mosh pit” of jammed restaurant coat checks, very long lines for Broadway theater toilets and a weekend gridlock of “overlapping parades, street fairs, street races, fireworks shows and cycling events.”

But we all went a little crazy last year — remember when we thought former Gov. Andrew Cuomo was a hero? – And that was the moment of my own madness.

I had enough “civilization” long ago. So, looking at the revival this autumn, so did everyone else.

The public understands the truth that “experts” should not despair, lest they lose their daily media reach: Few fully vaccinated New Yorkers are catching the virus. People who suffer “breakthrough” infections almost never become seriously ill, even if hospitalization is not needed at all.

People who’ll scream I don’t know what I’m talking about should get down and see the city daily updates of health department, Click the “Recent Trends” box and view statistics on hospitalizations and deaths during vaccination. There hasn’t been any since August, despite the slightly rising case.

Bill de Blasio may be the worst mayor we’ve ever had, but he’s not dumb enough to not read the charts. That’s why we’re taking back our Times Square New Year’s Eve party.

So go out and enjoy the chaos. Treat tourists well. And let us all say a wonderful thank you. We earned it.

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