I Only Like NY As A Friend - Part 3
April 20, 2011
The trip continued with the big day, Friday April 15th...
I was up around 6:00 or so and making sure the boys in our group were up. They were - in fact, most weren't in their rooms, they were downstairs eating breakfast because we had an early start. Today was the day we were performing on Liberty Island. Everyone needed to be downstairs getting their instruments off the trailer and putting on their marching band uniforms by 7:30, so we could get on the bus at 8:00 and leave.
We used the ferry launch at Liberty Park, NJ. In previous trips they've used the one in Battery Park, but the NYC police don't have a lot of tolerance (or space) for unloading high school marching bands from buses, so NJ worked out better. There was a fair amount of standing around waiting, then we had to pass through security to rival an airport (I'm not kidding), then the ferry stopped at Ellis Island (which I would love to come back and explore), then to Liberty Island.
I stayed and guarded the instruments while the band and everyone else went around to the front of the statue for a group photograph and the tour host tracked down the photographer. It was a little cold on the island, but you can't knock the view of Manhattan or the statue. Around 11:00 the band regrouped and performed - as you can see, behind Lady Liberty in a little plaza. They performed for about a half hour. The photograph of that is my favorite from the trip, not because it's such a great photo, but because you can see where the band was performing.
Later the band director commented to the kids that although they may not appreciate this right at the moment, at some point in their life they're going to look back and realize, "Wow, I performed on Liberty Island in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in front of people from all over the world." And there definitely were people from all over the world. Some from Australia and some French-speaking and some Asians. (I had a brief period of wandering and realized someone had accidentally left their tour book of NYC on a park bench. I was thinking, "Cool, that would be useful." It was written in French).
We then had some time to grab lunch on the island (which, as this type of food goes, wasn't too bad, actually), and hit the gift shop (I got a T-shirt and a hat) then caught the ferry back to New Jersey. We returned to the hotel room to pack away the instruments and uniforms and change into dress clothes for the rest of the day.
Around 2:30 we headed back into the city, primarily to Broadway and Times Square. On the way a couple of our kids noted a comic book store (one of them said, "It's, like, on my bucket list, you know?") on, I think it was 30th Avenue or maybe 40th. Anyway, trying to accommodate everyone, we hit the Hershey's Store and the M&M Store so a couple kids could buy either chocolate or T-shirts, then went back and found the comic store. A handful of the kids loved it. I wasn't sure I was going to get the bucket list guy out of the store without dynamite. So after about 30 minutes there Leanne stayed at the store with the hardcore kids and I took the rest back into Times Square where we milled around debating what to do. Finally one of our other kids from a different group came by and said, "Hey, the Naked Cowboy's down in front of..." so we went down there and got photographs. Then they did some T-shirt shopping, then back on the bus around 5:00 or so.
We then drove to Little Italy (one of my favorite parts of Manhattan actually, but it appears to be getting smaller and smaller, being overtaken by Chinatown, I guess) and ate at an excellent Italian restaurant, SPQR.
Then back to Broadway to see The Addams Family (with Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia and Roger Rees as Gomez). Most of the kids absolutely loved The Addams Family, which was very, very funny (in a cudgel to the head sort of way; it ain't subtle). A few of the kids didn't like it, partly, we understand, because "it isn't 'Wicked,' which is absolutely correct. It isn't. But it was a great change of pace, particularly for the part of the group that didn't like 'Wicked' much (mostly boys). One girl, arms clenched across her chest, said, "I don't like comedies." Hard to say what's going on there, but a life without laughter is going to suck, so hopefully she'll get over it.
We left the theater, picked up the buses fairly quickly, drove back to the hotel. After making sure our little ducklings were in bed, some of the chaperones had a "debriefing" in the bar. Around 1:00 AM I went to bed.