Last night Times Square was filled with thousands of young children
and families at midnight. Not too many years ago, children
and their parents wouldn't go near Times Square. It was the
armpit of humanity. But something magical happened.
A Harry Potter-like character named Mayor Rudy waved a magic wand over
the land, and changed it from the lair of the Beast of Terror into the
Land of Vigilance--a safe, secure place where children could come and
buy a Harry Potter book at midnight. Read about the Magic of
21, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 647
Times Square Banishes Monsters Of
Terrorism at 12:01 a.m.
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--June
21, 2003--It can happen. Mothers, fathers, loved
ones, and herds of precious children can climb aboard broomsticks,
wave magic wands, and display lightening bolts on their
foreheads as their wizardry and magic stampedes the Beast
of Terror out of Times Square and into the dark, dank alleys
of the hinterlands.
in line (girl on right) to purchase Harry Potter and
the Order of the Phoenix
the order of the night in Times Square last evening as hundreds
of young adults, children and parents braved a serpentine
line snaking around Toys 'R Us to await the tick of Time's
clock to fall upon 12:01 a.m--the precise time when J. K.
Rowling's latest book, Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix, was officially released worldwide.
My wife and I trekked
up to Times Square at 11 p.m. to record yet another spectacular
event in New York City's history--the unveiling of Harry
Potter's new book at Toys 'R Us, touted as the largest toy
store in the world. The store is replete with
a massive Ferris wheel and a nearly four-story automated
dinosaur that roars and growls at millions of onlookers
Square is the heartland of many global events. The
Square is most recognized as the site where a giant ball
is dropped to ring in the New Year. We
witnessed that event at Times Square at the turn of the
millennium in January, 2000.
of the Millennia in Times Square
tradition of celebrating New Years in Times Square began
with fireworks in 1904. The first ball was dropped
from the Times Building in 1907. Currently,
more than a billion of the 6.2 billion globally view the
event on television.
Earlier this year,
Times Square had been a massing place for hundreds of thousands
of anti-war protestors who jammed the streets to try and
stop the dethroning of Iraq's Beast of Terror, Saddam Hussein.
Times Square was also host to millions who packed it for
Victory Europe and Victory Japan Day, hallmarking the end
Often called the "global
crossroads," Times Square marks the "X" of
modern human urban history, a place where both celebration
and protest explode and the Voices of the world can be heard
as well as seen.
night for kids and parents
night, another chip of history was chiseled into the cornerstone
of Times Square. Harry Potter's fans took over.
It was a night for kids and parents.
The magic that unfolded
was not just that Harry Potter's newest adventure book was
being released, but rather the true magic was that Time
Square is safe for children.
A little more
than a decade ago, Times Square was a seedy place filled
with burlesque, peep shows, pornographic stores and X-rated
movies. Following the Depression, Broadway fell off
and old theaters became "grinder" houses, feeding
the thirst of eroticism. More than 140 of such grinder
theaters jammed 42nd Street. Children and families
weren't welcome as the dredges of humanity owned the night
around Times Square.
Times Square became the highest crime area in New York City.
In the early 80's, the State of New York termed 42nd Street
a "blighted area."
But in the wings
of a city undergoing decay at the hands of the Beast of
Terror was a young man who looks a bit like Harry Potter.
A slight man with eyeglasses, he focused his attention on
driving "evil" out of the land.
His name wasn't
Harry Potter, it was Rudy Giuliani.
He took on crime,
just as Harry Potter takes on the monsters and forces of
evil in Rowling's books. Prior to his
taking over the job of U.S. Attorney for New York, crime
ran free. It infiltrated almost every aspect
of New York City, ensnarling the city in graft and corruption.
Under his reign as U.S. Attorney, Giuliani set a record
in 1983 of 4,152 convictions with only 25 reversals.
homeland, as Harry Potter's, was in dire need of magic and
wizardry. New York City was on the verge of
bankruptcy and urban collapse. People feared
walking the streets and businesses shied from a city where
taxes soared and the quality of life was far below par.
Giuliani ran for mayor
in 1989, and lost in one of the closest races in New York
City history. He came back strong in 1993 and
won, then set into motion a sweeping set of reforms that
equal the feats of his fictional counterpart, Harry Potter.
Rallying his Sentinels
of Vigilance, he drove overall crime down by 57 percent.
Murders dropped by 65 percent. Extortionists
who held up cars on the street to wash their windows with
dirty rags were chased out of town. Criminals were
thrown in jail. There was a new sheriff in town,
and he was riding a Nimbus 1989.
Mayor Rudy did the
impossible. In the 90's, the FBI declared New
York City the "safest large city in the United States.
But reducing crime
wasn't Rudy's goal. He wanted to banish the Beast
of Terror, but to do so, meant he must replace the Beast's
lair with something else. He put Newton's
law into effect--"For every action there's an equal
and opposite reaction."
What could counter
something vile and corrupt, the antithesis of evil?
New York City went
through what was termed "Disneyfication."
In 1992 the Times Square
Business Improvement District was formed. Its
task was to raze the lairs of the Beast of Terror and to
build in their place palaces of Vigilance, safe, family-friendly
stores and environs to replace sinkholes of moral corruption
that blighted the community.
A lease was struck for a
Disney Store. It opened in 1997. Old stores
and theaters were crushed, and fresh new ones rose out of
night was a tribute to the magic of Mayor Rudy
opened their store in 1998 and a rush of other family-oriented
stores battled to get prime space in the renewal of Times
Square. Last year Hershey opened a mega-store,
and, a couple of years ago Toys 'R Us cut the ribbon on
the world's largest toy store where once the slime of humanity
Last night was
a tribute to the magic of Mayor Rudy.
Scores of young
girls and boys laughed and joked as they stood in a line
that snaked its way up and around the block, giggling and
sharing their favorite Harry Potter trivia as they waited
for the bewitching hour of 12:01, the beginning of the longest
day of the year, the summer solstice
worry about their children seeing horrible sights in Times
Square, or fear being mugged, or worry about the guy in
the trench coat lurking in the sallow shadows.
the line of over a thousand waiting to get their early copies
of Harry Potter's fifth saga were costumed members of Toys
'R Us passing out candy, affixing lightening bolt temporary
tattoos to willing recipients' foreheads, and performing
The kids, in
black horned-rimmed glasses ala their anti-hero Harry, danced
and joked, waving madly and hooting as television cameras
panned them, telling the world "they were there,"
they were at Times Square, the crossroads of the world,
to honor Harry Potter.
I thought about
the evolution of Times Square.
Square welcomes families in and out of costumes
old, dirty, ugly underbelly of its worst nature had been
banished. The reason the city's heart had fallen
into decay was the result of political and social Complacency.
The Beast of Terror had made his home in New York City,
injecting Fear and Intimidation into all who walked the
frightening, drug-infected, muggerly streets.
Rudy swung his
Sword of Vigilance at the knees of crime, rousting all the
scum in sight so he could clean the streets, make them safe.
Then he went
after the business.
He lured the
companies of the world, the Walt Disney's, to covert the
"sinkhole" into a city of magic and beauty.
Central Park, once
a graveyard of Terrorism, was scoured by police, driving
off the vermin of humanity who preyed on the innocent, helpless.
Rudy took on
organized crime, bashing their claws and ripping out their
fangs that clutched the city's businesses, entangling them
in fraud and corruption.
Slowly, the bankrupt,
decaying City of New York rose up, washed, shined and regenerated.
It began to sparkle. The flood of humanity seeking
to enjoy its wonders came to visit, cautious at first, then
spread the word that New York City was safe, beautiful,
a Harry Potter moment.
of New York City were defeated by Mayor Rudy, the city's
own Harry Potter. He turned the seedy, ugliness of
Times Square into a billboard of beauty, resourcefulness,
and family affinity.
And, at the peak of glory, when things just couldn't get
any better, the worst of things happened. The Beast
of Terror attacked, smashing down the Twin Towers, assaulting
the land where magic had replaced corruption, where beauty
had evolved out of ugliness.
the city was ready by then. Its fortresses of Vigilance,
its Courage, Conviction and ability to take the Right Actions
were in place. Rather than fall to its knees and cry, the
city rose up, rallied and, like Harry Potter and his friends,
challenged the Beast of Terror with its will and magic to
keep New York City a flower rather than letting it go to
Potter countdown nears the flight of the Phoenix
It was fitting that the fifth Harry Potter book see its
release in Times Square. The area had been reborn
and released from the Terrorism of decay. The Order
of the Phoenix continues to wield the Sword of Vigilance.
years, that sword was buried. Some thought it
was lost to crime and corruption, and that the city would
crumble into itself as the Beast of Terror roamed freely
through political, social and economic sanctuaries.
Rudy, who looks not unlike a version of Harry Potter, took
his Nimbus (magic broom) and swept the city clean.
the Beast of Terror and won, proving that Courage can erase
Fear, Conviction can overpower Intimidation, and Right Actions
for future generations can always stifle Complacency.
the Beast made a futile attempt to drive the city to its
knees in September, 2001, it found the Shields of Vigilance
were held up, driving the Beast away.
a Terrorist planning to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge told
his superiors the bridge was too well guarded, too secure.
of Harry Potter Lightening Bolts
Times Square symbolizes the land of magic and wizardry.
R Us magician contributing to the magic of the evening
night, as I watched the children's happy, excited faces,
I thought back to a few years before. They would
not have been there. Their parents would have made
a wide swerve from Times Square at midnight, fearful for
their lives and the safety of their children.
magic of Vigilance was apparent last night.
belonged to the children, which it should. They are
its true landlords.
reminds us all that the world is our children. They
pave the way to the future, and their beliefs in what can
be become the visions that shake the foundations of Complacency.
Harry Potter was alive and well in Times Square.
Mayor Rudy's and Harry Potter's Swords of Vigilance,
Times Square is there for the kids
wondered if Mayor Rudy might be disguised somewhere in that
Toys 'R Us line, wearing black horned-rimmed glasses, watching
the joy of a fresh new generation lined up where dirty old
and young men used to hover to leer and jeer.
imagine Mayor Rudy being Harry Potter, filled with the idealism
of what can be and not accepting of what is or what can't
I studied the faces of the young boys and girls, I realized
that among them was the next Mayor Rudy, a young boy or
girl who might take a decaying city, or a frightened group
of people who thought they were stuck forever in the shadow
of Terrorism, and remind them about the magic and wizardry
I was betting
there were a lot of Mayor Rudys, able to turn the tides
on the Beast of Terror.
I was glad Harry
was at Times Square.
And, I was happy
Times Square is there for the kids.
Potter Party at Times Square
June 20--Harry Potter vs. The Beast
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