Freelance announcer Aika Kanda: Countdown event in Times Square, NY with her 72-year-old mother | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Freelance announcer Aika Kanda: Countdown event in Times Square, NY with her 72-year-old mother

Aika Kanda: Me, Pink, and Sometimes NY [Serialization] Vol. 2

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A loud countdown of cheers began one minute before, and the sphere of electric lights shining like a mirror ball slowly began to fall from a high place. The excitement of the crowd, estimated to be more than one million, reached its climax with “3! The excitement burst into flames with the shouts of “Happy New Year! Fireworks erupted from around the sphere, and a huge amount of confetti rained down from nowhere. Then, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” blasted into the air, bringing the event to its climax.

© Kazuki Shimomura

The moment when December 31, 2010 changed to January 1, 2011. I was watching the countdown event in Times Square in New York City through the window of my hotel room.

It had always been a dream. I had always dreamed of seeing it with my own eyes. The hotels in the area where you can see the event in Times Square fill up a year in advance, and I hear that all the participants on the ground wear adult diapers. This is because some people will not be able to go to the bathroom for almost 20 hours. People start lining up at the gate around 4 am. By the time of the commute, the line reaches several kilometers, and when the gates open in the afternoon, people finally move to where they want to go.

Re-entry, however, is prohibited. Once through the gate, they are not allowed to buy food or go to the restroom. In addition, it is extremely cold in the winter in New York, and this time it was raining. Even those wearing ponchos were sure to be soaked down to their underwear.

So, no matter how much I admired this event, I could not muster up the courage to participate. I was so excited to see the event, and I was so excited to see Times Square. My feelings were overwhelmingly weaker than mine, and I was completely defeated! That’s why I love New York! But I will definitely try one day, so just wait and see!” I had been eagerly waiting for that time to come, and when I was able to take a vacation during the New Year’s holidays, the time finally came!

I really want to show my mother the best countdown in the world. She is now 72 years old. I couldn’t let her wear a diaper in the cold weather. The only other option was to get a hotel room with a view of the event, but it looked like the rooms were already booked. Overcoming the time difference and the language barrier, I managed to get a room with my own perseverance, but the accommodation cost was eight times the normal rate. Oh my God! We had to pay for several months’ worth of money, which we had earned by doing things like impersonating Antonio Inoki and filming beehive exterminations, before we were able to get to the scene at the beginning of this article.

During the 60 seconds of the countdown, I recorded videos on my phone and looked through binoculars. I was impatient and unfocused; I couldn’t believe the scene I had seen so many times on YouTube and wasn’t impressed. Suddenly, I noticed dozens of people standing in a horizontal line on the roof of a low building next door, facing the outside of the building. They all had something in their hands. Then they all started throwing something at once. They were throwing as hard as they could, over and over again. What? Confetti! A magnificent confetti at the world’s greatest event in Times Square, the cutting edge of the times. It was the result of manpower.

What I found amidst the excitement

When the crowd dispersed with the aftermath of the excitement, Times Square was filled with a huge amount of trash. Confetti, party hats and glasses, ponchos, umbrellas, and plastic bottles. The trash was so piled on top of each other that there was no room to step on it, but I watched as a garbage truck with a vacuum outlet on the bottom of the car sucked it up in no time at all, and went back to sleep.

When I went out of the hotel the next morning, the ground was covered with countless amounts of confetti that had not been collected. It seemed that the garbage truck had given up and gone home. When the wind suddenly blew, a sheet of confetti came flying down in front of me, and when I looked up, I saw multicolored confetti dancing brightly, covering the blue sky between buildings.

The source was the rooftop of that low building where the manpower was being used. Why not? It looks like they spilled a lot and left without cleaning up. I grabbed a yellow sheet from the confetti that was flying around as if it was the real thing. There was an English sentence written on it. The translation app read, “Professional growth and financial abundance in a career I am passionate about. I don’t understand. I mean, I didn’t know there was a fortune mixed in with the confetti! Somehow I felt like I was being told, “Work hard at your job, save your money, and join us on the ground this time!” I felt as if I was being told to work hard, save up money, and join the next time on the ground. I made up my mind. I’m going to put on a diaper and give it a try before I get too old!

Illustration drawn by Mr. Kanda

Born in 1980 in Kanagawa Prefecture. After graduating from Gakushuin University with a degree in mathematics, she joined NHK as an announcer in 2003, and left in 2012 to become a freelance announcer. Since then, she has been active mainly in variety shows, and currently makes regular appearances as the main MC of the daytime TV program “Poka Poka” (Fuji Television Network).

From the February 24, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

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