Sunday, New York citizens, and tourists alike, were given an opportunity to publicly wave goodbye to their unwanted memories of 2014. The Times Square Alliance along with Shred-it International collaborated to provide a mobile shredding truck at Broadway Plaza, so participants could watch their bad memories, written on a piece of paper, be permanently destroyed.
The idea is based on a traditional Latin American custom where dolls are made from straw and stuffed with negative things and burnt in a bonfire, in order to purge evil spirits.
With Times Square being the center of so many vanities, the organizers deemed a bonfire to be out of the question. Though less of a spectacle, the process of shredding unpleasant recollections is cathartic nonetheless, and is more in-line with health and safety regulations.
George Loder, from Ohio and his daughters Rachel and Hannah shredded “raising children,” “organic chemistry,” and “casual relationships” respectively. George found the act of physically writing down his gripe, and knowing that it’s being destroyed, to be therapeutic.
This is the eighth year that Good Riddance Day has run in New York, and event organizer, Tim Tompkins, noted, “bad boyfriends get shredded a lot each year.”
Indeed, Italian holidaymaker, Gabrielle Zingale, was enthused after reading about the event on the Internet, and “felt good and enjoyed the occasion,” after a picture of her ex-boyfriend was shredded.
For people outside the Big Apple, who look to New York’s Times Square as the brand leader of New Year’s events, Good Riddance’s social media page gave them the opportunity to submit their shredding requests from afar.
Unfortunately, however, the digital approach precluded them from tasting some confectionary baked by Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel, there at the behest of the organizers, as a surprise for participants.
Many anonymous Good Riddance requests were displayed on the side of the shredding truck, some, like “poverty and homelessness,” “my marriage and cheating husband,” and “being single and lonely” serving as a reminder of the struggles associated with the holiday period.
Someone echoing former mayor Rudy Giuliani’s policies wanted “people who wrap themselves around the subway pole” banished, while “dumb commercials” was a pet peeve many could relate to.
Organizers were cognizant that good wishes would serve well as a counterfoil for bad memories, and have a Virtual Wishing Wall, where the public can write their New Year’s wishes on crepe paper. These will be added to the ton of confetti that will flutter down onto the crowd gathered at the square at midnight, during the famous New Year’s Eve ball-lowering ceremony.
Having lived in New York for a year, Australian Jade Grieve considers the possibility that 2015 will begin with her wish dropping into someone’s hand on Times Square, to be a nice thought.
Her sister, Emma feels her wish has a universal application, and hopes it can also benefit a stranger who might pluck it from the cloud of confetti when the clock strikes midnight.
Being conscious of the fragile nature of wishes, the Grieve sisters were careful not to vocalize and jeopardize them.