You cannot take 150 high school students from Alabama to New York City and not take them to Manhattan. Immediately following the service at Brooklyn Tabernacle, we boarded our buses and rode to the center of the city.
Here were the parameters:
> Stay with your assigned group – obviously.
> Drop off (at 12:15pm) and pick up (at 8pm) in the theater district near Times Square.
> Eat both lunch and dinner in that time.
> Meet at New Amsterdam Theater at 2pm for the matinée performance of Mary Poppins.
So what would you do in the given time with four girls? It seems a mission impossible, and did I mention it was a bit rainy? Whether the best plan or not, I ran them through a loop of midtown passing as many landmarks as possible along the way. And we had a blast.
Here was our path:
We unloaded buses just off Broadway in Times Square. (A/H above) Our hungry group and a few others made our way directly to Ellen’s Stardust Diner (B) for lunch and pre-show entertainment. The excitement on the students’ faces was totally worth the short wait in the drizzling rain. We finished eating just in time to head straight back to New Amsterdam (C) and find our seats for Mary Poppins. Bows were taken, applause given, and we walked at a city pace for the next 2 hours.
From the theater, we walked through Bryant Park, stood on the steps of the Public Library, ducked in at Grand Central Station (D), converged on the fountain of Rockefeller Center (E). After a quick break inside, we continued on, taking pictures at the entrance to NBC studios and purchasing a Magnolia Bakery (F) cupcake. We waved at Radio City Music Hall before returning to Times Square. There we sat and ate our cupcakes. We had just enough time to do a little souvenir shopping, grab the quickest burger to go possible (G), and meet the bus.
According to Google maps, the walking alone would have taken an hour. Add in time for photos, bathroom breaks, and shopping, and I think our group managed pretty well. Yes it was touristy, and I realize there are countless iconic Manhattan scenes we missed, but what can you do with so little time? I just hope it was enough to whet the appetite of these girls and inspire a return trip.
Next time you have only 2.5 unscheduled hours in Manhattan, what will you do?