Fifteen seconds before midnight

Unlike most of the stories I write on this blog, this is not sourced from an existing news story but from personal experience. The story begins back on December 21 or so. I ask mom if she has any plans for New Year’s Eve. She finds the event at Memorial City Mall and proceeds to reserve a hotel room for us for the night with the idea of avoiding both potentially icy roads as well as “amateur hour”, i.e. the potential drunk drivers.

And so it was decided that’s where we would be to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Given what we had expected versus what we actually found awaiting us, “celebrate” could be a bit generous of a term. We arrived somewhat early at around 9:20 pm. I certainly arrived ready, complete with a face paint design I had been practicing for several days prior (I know I don’t have the best of expressions here, but it took me a while to really get in the spirit of things and this was before we even left):

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The weather outside wasn’t too bad at first, but it started feeling colder due to the wind, and eventually, we would spend the majority of our time inside except for key moments of the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast (and that was often me outside alone). There were no festivities as such inside, but there was a church group having some sort of gathering, which was unannounced on the website alongside the mall’s NYE celebration. The cash bar was present, but given the chilling temperatures, there weren’t many takers for cold beer and wine. It would have made more sense to sell hot chocolate, hot coffee, and hot tea (the vendor appeared to only have a beer and wine license as that was all that was being served, so hot coffee with liqueur wouldn’t have been legally possible).

I did catch Mariah Carey’s set and the countdown to midnight for New York City and the eastern time zone. I will briefly mention it was nice to see Mariah’s set happen without any technical issues; in a later post, I will go into more details on this.

After that, we spent some time inside planning what exactly to do, with the key decision being stick around or head back to the hotel early. The way I was looking at it, with us being a couple of hours into it, it seemed silly to head out some 20-30 minutes before midnight in our time zone (with the televised celebration showing New Orleans and a fleur-de-lis dropping instead of a ball like the Times Square celebration in NYC). At one point we went out and there was some rap group playing on the TV.

Finally, the moment came. We were outside watching the countdown. I get up and start a live Facebook stream for the final 2-3 minutes or so. We get down to about 15 seconds… and then the big screen TV goes dark.

Obviously, the crowd is unhappy. Finally, someone figures out where in the countdown we should be and we count down the final 7 seconds on our own.

I’m not sure what the management of Memorial City Mall was thinking. The mall’s own Twitter account promoted a no-cover event at 024 Lounge and didn’t even mention the event at the mall itself (which we found out about on the mall’s website). Looking back it is now pretty obvious that the event we attended was an afterthought, even though it was announced at least a good week and a half in advance.

I quipped to my mom that had I know how this was going to turn out, I would have done a full face Mr. Yuk instead of the festive red, white, and blue 2018 design. I probably wouldn’t in reality (if for no other reason that the green paints are a bit harder to wash off than other colors) but all kidding aside, while the rest of the event may have technically been as advertised, I don’t know what can be said for cutting the power to the big screen TV a full 15 seconds before the end of the countdown when the mall’s own calendar showed the event as running until 12:30 am. The fool that either put the TV on a (sloppily set) timer or, worse, intentionally powered it down early should be made to answer to whoever does the PR for Memorial City Mall, and in turn to those who attended. Maybe that seems harsh but said fool is the one responsible for ruining the experience for the crowd that did gather.

It’s been a couple of days, and whoever is in charge of the Twitter account has not responded to my tweet. I will update if I get an answer from anyone representing the mall.

Below is the full live video on Facebook, as originally aired (smartphone video with no tripod, so it is a bit jerky/wobbly in places):