On the last day of the year, I lined up the items I would need for the night's race: fleece hat, wool scarf, gloves, and an empty Thermos. Instead of running New York Road Runners Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, I opted to volunteer for the event's festival. One of my 37 Things including volunteering at more races and (until the moment I arrived in Central Park), I had failed in this endeavor.
The volunteer coordinator described my mission:“Your job is to be helpful.” I donned on a bright orange vest that identified me as VOLUNTEER and walked the perimeter of the area surrounding the Bandshell and tried to look merry and bright. As a librarian, the “Ask Me Anything” conversation bubble floats permanently above my head. While the event does include a four-mile race around the park, tourists and spectators flock to the free outdoor dance party and midnight fireworks display. A large part of my "job" for the night included pointing people towards the port-a-pots, recommending where to stand for the fireworks, and directing the runners to the baggage check and starting line.
Even with the freezing weather and numb extremities, it was the perfect way to break in the new year: in a glorious park in an amazing city, supporting the running community and surrounded by people old and young, from near and far. I sipped watered-down hot chocolate, wiggled to the music, and tried desperately to help people find the nearest subway station. I always fail to exit the park in an efficient manner. I think I'm heading west only to find myself on the east side. Once I'm in the middle of the park, I forget the path that took me there. Despite this, I choose to believe that my vague pointing, thoughtful pauses, map glancing, and perky instructions led all to be where they intended.
Happy New Year!