Last-Minute NYC New Year’s Eve Ideas: FREEish Things to Do for the Broke and Almost Broke

#1 Join 800,000 other people for the famous and FREE Ball Drop in Times Square.  But before you hurry over there, here´s some advice – get there EARLY, bring food and dress warmly – you´re going to be there for a while.  And there are NO bathrooms.

If the sound of being crushed against other bodies for hours for the opportunity to be speck of dust on the television screens of millions of TVs all over the world sounds like hell, I recommend staying faaar away from mid-town and watching the balldrop on a ginormous TV screen from the comfort of a bar stool in Brooklyn (try Berry Park, 4 Berry St at North 14th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 718-782-2829, berryparkbk.com) or Queens (try Hell Gate Social, 12-21 Astoria Blvd between 12th and 14th Sts, Astoria, Queens (718-204-8313, hellgatesocial.com) or even Harlem (try Bier International 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave) between 113th and 114th Sts (212-280-0944). Noon–4am; cash only.  And if you want to be off the grid all together and hide from all the hufalumbalaboo of the New Year, try a place with no TV like Summit Bar in Alphabet City (133 Ave C between 8th and 9th Sts (no phone, thesummitbar.net). 5:30pm–4am.

#2 With so many FREE fireworks displays in the city to see, how´s a broke-ass to choose?  Why not do ALL of them?  Hop on the FREE Staten Island Ferry just off Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to Staten Island and back for an unforgettable panorama of the fireworks in Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey and Liberty Island from the water.  Bring a blanket and a snuggle buddy –it´s sure to be chilly!

#3 Cheer on drunk crazy people for FREE at The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park.  While you must pay to participate in the four-mile run, cheering on the participants is absolutely FREE. The party starts at 10 p.m. with a DJ and dancing, followed by a costume contest and parade at 11 p.m., and culminating with fireworks and the race at midnight. Central Park, 10pm,  nyrr.org/races/2011/r1231x00.asp

#4 Work out those thigh muscles biking or skating for FREE (bikes and skates are not included) as part of Time Up´s 13th Annual New Year´s Eve Ride starting from Washington Square Park.  Run by environmental organization Time’s Up, the group will traverse starting at 10pm from Washington Square Park to Belvedere Castle in Central Park, where a dance party awaits. Check the group’s website for other meeting points throughout the city.  (212) 802-8222, times-up.org
And for those with a little bit of cash saved up to burn – it´s New Year´s after all – here are a few ideas for under 50 bucks…

#1 Sing your Olivia Newton John out to Hedda Lettuce´s Xanadu Sing-Along for $25. This playful homage to this cult classic is followed by the live Times Square countdown on the big screen and a champagne toast. Clearview Chelsea, 10pm. 260 W 23rd St (between Seventh and Eighth Aves) (212) 505-2463, clearviewcinemas.com/classics

#2 Spend New Year’s Eve with DEER TICK & FRIENDS at the Brooklyn Bowl.  Featuring J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Dead Confederate, Virgin Forest. 21+ $50 day of show for a hell of a lot of good music. Doors open at 6pm, show starts at 8pm.  brooklynbowl.com/event/81447/

#3 Absorb absurdist theater in the Lower East Side for $5 (plus one drink minimum).  Join Renaldo the Ensemble for Aldo Perez´s vaudevillian musical stylings at the Living Room´s New Year´s Eve fete.  The Living Room, 11pm. 154 Ludlow St (between Rivington and Stanton Sts), (212) 533-7235, livingroomny.com

#4 Boogey down to Barbes in Brooklyn for some of Spanglish Fly´s boogaloo for $15.  Don´t know how to dance to this motown meets mambo shake up that grew out of Spanish Harlem’ s El Barrio in the swinging sixties? No worries.  You´ll get an impromptu dance lesson from the 12 band members.  Barbès, 10pm. 376 9th St (at Sixth Ave) Brooklyn, NY, (718) 965-9177, barbesbrooklyn.com

#5 Get into Webster Hall´s New Year´s Eve Ball after 2:30am for $40.  With tickets originally priced at $150, latecomers can save $$$ at this 126 year old club and take advantage of the sounds of all its rooms (rock, house, trance, hip-hop, reggae, Latin and disco) until 9am in the morning. Webster Hall , 8pm–9am. 125 E 11th St (between Third and Fourth Aves), (212) 353-1600, websterhall.com/nye

#6 Hippity hop to the 2-hour open bar at Sutra in the Lower East Side for $40.  A top spot for hip-hop, get $40 tix for the two hour open bar from midnight to 2am and drink like a homeless man.  Sutra,  9pm 16 First Ave (between 1st and 2nd Sts), (212) 677-9477, sutranyc.com

#7 Get an eyeful of the down and dirty at a Brooklyn underground warehouse hoedown for $20.  Rubulad New Year´s Eve affair offers a smorgasbord of nasty with Pierre Pressure’s Putrid Puppet Show, the Night Market’s Greasy Truck Fun, G. Scopitronic’s Saucy Non-Stop Film Fest and the Lowlife Light Circus Extraordinaire by Norm Francoeur. Live music and a dance floor also included with the price of admission. 10pm. 117 11th St (between Second and Third Aves) Brooklyn, NY

And if you get through New Year´s Eve in one piece, you can enjoy the first day of 2012 with a little winter duck watching for FREE at Prospect Park.  Led by the Brooklyn Bird Club at 10am, this guided tour of winter duck watching is a tranquil and ambitious way to kick off the New Year.  10am. Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, Audubon Center at the Boathouse (enter park from Ocean Ave. Lincoln Rd.), (718)-287-3400, nyc.gov/parks

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Patricia Serrano - Destitute Diva

Patricia Serrano is a classically-trained screenwriter with a passion for one-of-kind life experiences and well-written paragraphs. Hailing from Bangkok, Thailand, she was disowned by her family when she decided to be a writer. She came to the states to pursue a career in journalism at Emerson College, but found that writing films pissed her parents off more. She successfully survived a two-year MFA program for Dramatic Writing at NYU that has left her bank account at a negative balance and gets instant gratification from writing for the web.

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