I Asked New Year’s Eve Tourists in Times Square How Many Layers They Were Wearing

I worry for tourists in Times Squre on New Year’s Eve—especially since it’s been under 15°F for most of the day in New York. So out of worry, and perhaps morbid curiosity, I walked to Times Square and asked tourists how many layers they were wearing.

I met my first family at one of the security checkpoints along 6th Avenue, one avenue from Times Square. The family was from Irvine, California, where it’s 65°F at the time of writing.

“I’m wearing five layers. Five shirts.” —Raymond, 46.
“I’m wearing three layers.” — Renee, 46.
“Four.” — Raymond & Renee’s son, 14.
“Like, four.” — Raymond & Renee’s son, 10. (He was wearing an adorable hat with a tiger’s face on it.)

The next security checkpoint was just a few feet after the first one. There, I met a couple from Holland, where it’s 47°F at the time of writing. They laughed very hard when I asked how many layers they were wearing.

“One pants and four tops.” —Inika, 60.
“I have one pair of pants and four layers on top.” —Lex, 61.

The final security checkpoint was on 7th Avenue. The 2018-ball was six blocks away at 42nd Street. There, I met two teenagers from Toronto, where it’s 5°F at the time of writing. (Ouch!) They did not seem cold.

“Three layers.” —Richard, 16.
“Five layers.” —William, 14.

At this point, I exited the line. I was not dedicated enough to this article to actually enter the ninth circle of hell.

Just a few feet away, two women stood at the corner of 7th Avenue. The younger of the two was holding a cane. She told me that the other woman was her mother.

“We came from Puerto Rico—Hurricane Maria affected us,” the daughter said. She gestured across the street. “We’re staying right now in a shelter in this hotel. It’s the first time that we came to New York. It’s a beautiful city. It’s bright, and wow—it’s big! And cold, very cold. But it’s beautiful.”

She was crying—it wasn’t clear whether or not it was due to the cold.

“We’re staying with family here in New York because we want to work and study in the city,” she continued.

We spoke for a few moments, shivering, in agreement about how cold it was. Thankfully, they were both wearing a lot of layers.

“Right now, I have three tops, two coats, two t-shirts,” she said. “My mom—two coats, three pants.”

We wished each other a happy new year and said goodbye.

At this point, I couldn’t feel my hands, so I started jogging back toward 6th Avenue. I almost ran past Cafe Duke, but its storefront had an orange glow that made it look very warm. I ran inside and spoke to a few people there.

The first people I met were from Louisiana, where it’s 47°F at the time of writing.

“We’re from the South—we don’t wear clothes like this! I have two layers on and I’m burning up. As a matter of fact, I’m sweating right now. Well, I’m wearing Under Amor, so that’s pretty hot stuff.” —Joey, 55. (He was also wearing an incredible blue New Year’s Eve fedora covered with in cheetah-print.)
“Three.”— Brenda, 55.

The next people I met told me that they’re from the UK, but they currently live in a country in the Middle East. They didn’t tell me which country, but it’s 45°F in London at the time of writing.

“Under Amor, t-shirt, base layer, jumper coat. So four layers. When there’s no wind, it’s okay.” — James, 30.
“I’ve got four on as well. I’ve got base layer, a t-shirt, a jumper, and my jacket, a scarf. We’ve never been [to New York], so we’ve come to see what it was like.” —Jennifer, 30.

When I introduced my article to another woman in Cafe Duke, she said, “That’s strange,” and turned away. Fair enough!

However, a family from South Korea agreed to speak with me. They didn’t specify which city they were from, but it’s 27°F in Seoul at the time of writing.

“I’m just wearing two layers and a jacket. It’s working.” —Chen.
“One, two, uh, three shirts. I have a hat as well.” —Jung.
“Three.” —Chang.
“Four layers. One, two, three, four.” —Liu.

After buying some food, I left Cafe Duke and started walking toward the subway. At 4 p.m., the lines to enter security checkpoints along 6th Avenue were about ten people long. But after just an hour, the lines were more than a block long.

I paused and spoke with two friends on line who came from Australia. They didn’t name a specific city, but it’s 81°F in Sydney at the time of writing. These women who were by far the most prepared tourists I met.

“Like thirty [layers]. Five pairs of pants. Three pairs of socks. Four jumpers. Three jackets. Headband. Beanie. We’re actually really hot right now.”—Jess, 22.
“We even got a bavaclava to throw on later. Like, the full-faced bavaclava.” — Emily, 23.

Further down the line, I met a man and a woman from Indonesia. The man did not tell me his name, but said he was from the capital city of Jakarta.

“It’s like ten degrees. I’m wearing probably three layers right now. Right now, it’s pretty warm for me.” — Man from Jakarta.
“Four layers.” —Raoul, 39.

The last people I spoke with were two friends from Minnesota.

“One, two, three. Three layers. I’m not too bad.” —Katie, 24.
“Three. It’s freezing here.” — Ming, 25.

In case you weren’t keeping count, here’s the final tally:

  • 2 Layers: 2 people
  • 3 Layers: 7 people
  • 4 Layers: 8 people
  • 5+ Layers: 6 people

Overall, this is a lot better than I was expecting. I was only wearing three sweaters and two pairs of pants, so most of these tourists were wearing more layers than me.

I’m definitely less worried about most of the tourists in Times Square after conducting this mini-experiment. But mainly, it was just refreshing to meet people who are genuinely excited to celebrate 2018.

On that note, happy new year!

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