Mary and Tom Nelson wrote about the challenges and fun they had traveling to New York for the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium on December 30, 2010. Here is their story.

Our original plans were to fly on the red eye the night of December 27th and arrive in New York at JFK airport on Tuesday morning, December 28th.

New York had a blizzard on the previous Sundy when they received two feet of snow, the sixth largest snowstorm in the history of the city. Thousands of flights were canceled and we figured we were dead in the water. Not being deterred we got up Monday morning and left Salinas for the airport at 9:30 am. We shopped around for a flight and Tom noticed that a flight to Philadelphia had five available seats so we took that flight. It was originally scheduled to depart at 9:07 in the morning, but was delayed until 1:30 pm, which made it possible for us to catch it.

We got to Philadelphia around 9:00 pm and reserved one of the last hotel rooms at the airport. Tuesday morning we got up and took the local commuter train to the Amtrak station and bought the last two reserved seats on a train. It was running 1 hour and 45 minutes late. We arrived in New York around 1:30 pm and walked from Penn station at 33rd street to our hotel on 53rd street. On the way we took some photos and looked at Christmas windows on 5th Avenue. We saw the Macy’s windows on 34th Street, the Lord and Taylor windows (just about my favorite), and also shopped at Bryant Park which had several holiday shops set up just for the season. We had some great soup at Hale and Hearty across the street from Bryant Park.


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Tom Nelson looking at piles of snow

. . . and slushy streets

It was really slushy and difficult getting through intersections because of large piles of snow but at least most of streets were plowed in Manhattan.

We arrived at the hotel around 4:00 pm and checked into our tiny room on the 14th floor. By 5:00 we were at Rockefeller Center buying tickets to the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show. It was fabulous and I especially enjoyed the Art Deco interior which I had seen in my textbooks but never in person. After the show, we stopped at Heartland Brewery with a few other K-Staters and had dinner.

The next morning a
fter breakfast Tom stayed at the hotel and I took a long walk to see store windows and the city. It was about 35 degrees and actually quite pleasant for walking. I saw Henri Bendel, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman windows. A couple of stores (Abercrombie and Fitch and Ugg had long lines of people waiting to get in for after Christmas specials). If I would have had more time I would have liked to walk in Central Park but just got to the edge of it.

One of my favorite photographs was the horse and carriage in Central Park where the driver had just taken the food bucket away!


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Horse and carriage in Central Park.

Many cars were just covered with snow and had no chance of getting out anytime soon.

I forgot my pedometer so don’t know how far I walked but I had fun! When I returned it was time to go to the Pep Rally at the the historic Roseland ballroom. There were about 2,000 K-State fans there. The team was scheduled to appear but had trouble getting back from Yankee Stadium where they practiced Wednesday morning. They finally got off the buses and walked the last 3 blocks. The ballroom was 2 blocks from our hotel.

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Coach Snyder in the hotel lobby

Cheerleaders at the pep rally

We left the pep rally and had something to eat in a nearby restaurant. We walked close enough to see the Empire State Building with purple and orange lights (didn’t photograph too well). Then we wandered around Times Square before going to the show “Driving Miss Daisy” featuring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. We met a nice guy from Syracuse and visited while waiting to get into the show. The show was fabulous.

Back to the hotel after lots of walking. We had no problem being cold because we walked enough to keep warm!

Thursday, bagels for breakfast, at least once while in New York! Then onto the subway to go to Yankee Stadium for the game. The band played at noon and the doors opened at 1:30 so we had plenty of time to kill.


Outside Yankee Stadium


We had to look through the foul ball pole from our seats.


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Inside Yankee Stadium

K-State makes its mark on Yankee Stadium

The teams were very competitive and exchanged scores most of the game. With less than two minutes to go we scored a touchdown to come within two points. But Adrian Hilburn was flagged for excessive celebration – “THE SALUTE!” Our two point conversion from the 18 yard line failed. The Salute has started a firestorm of outrage from football fans everywhere including LeBron James and Regis Philbin in addition to most media sportswriters. In his second year back Coach Snyder has us back into post season play and we have a lot to look forward to next year. GO CATS!

We took the subway home and went to Times Square to eat. When we got back to the hotel the team was just arriving. They looked very dejected but fans were there to cheer for them and welcome them back. Probably didn’t help much but they needed to know we weren’t upset with the team. Officials, yes, but not the team! Had a nice chat with Stephen Harrison’s dad from Texas. Stephen graduated in December and will be exploring options for going to the NFL. He had a great season.

Friday, December 31st, New Year’s Eve. We walked through Times Square at 6:00 am where the snow plows were working like crazy to finish cleaning up and hauling snow away for the big party that night. Lots of folks out and about. We walked the 20 blocks from the hotel to Penn Station in less than 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. What we won’t do to save taxi fare!

Got a ticket to go on Amtrak back to Philadelphia since we figured our chances of flying out were better than JFK or LaGuardia. Had a lovely nap on Amtrak! The flight we hoped to get on was delayed and we finally got out of Philadelphia around 1pm to go to Atlanta since the flights to San Francisco were all full. After we got to Atlanta there were still several flights to San Francisco, but they were all oversold and we couldn’t get on any of them. We tried up to 11:00 pm before giving up and finding a place to settle in for the night. It wouldn’t have been too bad except for the flat screen TV’s blaring CNN all night so we slept fitfully and were up at 5:30 am to see about getting a flight on Saturday. The Atlanta airport didn’t even serve champagne for New Year’s Eve.

Struck out on some more flights Saturday morning before finding a couple seats open on a flight to Salt Lake City. Once in Salt Lake we made more attempts to get to San Francisco before settling on a flight to Oakland.

All in all, a really fun and adventurous trip. It was really special being in NYC at Christmas time.

Mary & Tom Nelson
January 3, 2011



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