Maybe disastrous is too strong a word but through no fault of anyone, nothing went right. Our first obstacle in town, aside from being anxious to get started and hungry, was that the main hub through Chinatown (Mott Street) was closed off. Soon I discovered that all the side streets were inexplicably also closed. Parking in Chinatown has always been a challenge but if you're willing to run back and keep feeding the meter there's never a problem.
Our parking search radius widened without any luck. Then because I had kids in the car, even though it's against my religion to pay more for parking than to eat, I, for the first time in my life, gave in to the horror of paying to park. My nightmare skyrocketed to Hitchcockian proportions when, thousands of live crabs crawled out from Pell Street and worse, all the parking lots were FULL! Oh, I was kidding about the crabs on Pell Street...it actually happened on Bayard Street however, the parking lots were indeed full-up.We finally parked at a meter on the Bowery with distant Canal Street easily ten blocks away.
It was clouding up and I recall saying, "At least its not raining."
Perhaps it was a sign from above because a street urchin saw it fit to pee in the street right in front of us...ahhhh,the ambiance of Chinatown. I re-thought the situation and figured, by the time we got to our destination, I'd have to walk back a half mile to feed the meter.
We turned around and got back in the car. I drove to the corner where our favorite restaurant was (it was closed off, remember) and dropped them off. I took the fifty-cent tour and drove through oddball places I never saw. I stopped after thirty minutes when I realized that I was one of several other cars trawling for a parking spot.
Back in Chinatown, I pulled along side a traffic cop and asked why all the streets were closed.
He said, "They are gearing-up for the Columbus Day Parade on Monday."
I said, "Where is there a Columbus Day Parade?"
He said, "Little Italy."
Adjacent to each other, Little Italy and Chinatown are separated by Canal Street. Mott Street is on the Chinatown side and its called Mulberry Street on the Little Italy side.
I said, "They closed all the streets in Chinatown today, for a parade in Little Italy on Monday?"
He said, "Gets really crazy around here."
I said, "Its pretty crazy right now...I dropped my family off at the Wo Hop restaurant and they have been waiting almost an hour."
THE PHOTO DOESN'T GIVE JUSTICE TO THE WO HOP RESTAURANT--17 MOTT STREET (downstairs). IT'S MY FAVORITE EATERY IN "C-TOWN" AND THERE REALLY ISN'T A SECOND CHOICE. I'VE BEEN GOING THERE SINCE ABOUT 1973 WHEN GAS WAS 38c A GALLON AND IT WAS NO BIG DEAL TO VENTURE INTO THE CITY FOR "CHINX" AT 2:AM.
He said, "Tough break."
I said, "Well, can I leave my car here (in a traffic island, on the corner of Mott and Bowery) for five minutes so I can let them know where I am and get them out."
He said, "You'd be illegally parked...I'd have to give you a ticket."
This of course was in the pre-cell phone era.
I pointed up curvy Mott Street, "C'mon, gimme a break. It's only a half a block, I'll run and be back in no time."
He said, "If I let you, I'd have let everyone..."
I controlled my sarcasm and said, "I'll give you my wallet...please they might be panicking...don't make this an emergency."
"Okay. Keep your wallet but hurry." He then smirked, "If my sergeant shows up, I'm gonna have to nail you...and if she's in one of her moods, you'll probably get towed."
I ran off and luckily my family never went into the restaurant. So it was easy to gather them up. Back in the car, I explained the Columbus Day situation while they moaned in a collective high-pitched starvation tone. We wound up at the South Street Seaport (YAWN). The highlight was taking pictures of the East River and Brooklyn Bridge as a foggy haze set in. Of course we ate in what amounts to their up-scale mall's food-court first but the PHOTO-OP was clearly the better time. P. S.-- I paid through the nose to park!
We then found out that there is nowhere to park at Ground-Zero. I parked at a fire hydrant and we took turns looking around, reading the plaques, etc. Our last stop was Battery Park. There was no place to park their either. So I waited in the car while they walked out to the water's edge for their first up close glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. They got back to the car rather quickly and cheerfully explained the abundance of weirdos they saw in such a short time.
Looking for inspiration I said, "What did you think of the Statue of Liberty?'
Andrew said, "It was too foggy we couldn't see it."