Citizens of the world are not short on reasons to give a swift sayonara to 2016: David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, the presidential election, you name it.
In what’s become an annual, cathartic exercise before the ball drop, a crowd gathered in Times Square Wednesday afternoon to send what they hated the most about the year through a shredder. It’s known as Good Riddance Day. Participants write the thought, concept, feeling, etc., onto a sheet of paper that is then immediately shredded right before their eyes.
For those who brought physical objects unfit for a shredder, a sledgehammer sat nearby.
“I just wanted to say good riddance to tiny thumbs on Twitter. It’s time to get a little more substantive in 2017,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, holding up a photo of Donald Trump that he sent through the shredder.
The alliance hosted the event with the company Shred-it, which goes by the slogan “the world’s largest secure information destruction company.”
Plenty were upset with the year in national politics, but many others told more personal stories of perseverance. Arlene Roberts of Antioch, California, shredded the wig she wore during her fight against breast cancer. Roberts, now cancer-free, wanted to celebrate that battle as well as the battle against the insecurities that manifested over her appearance at the time.
“One of the things that happened, obviously with chemo, is that I lost all my hair. A woman’s hair is her crowning glory, and suddenly I was bald,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to work bald…So I started to wear a wig to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
“That [wig] was my last connection to my diagnosis,” she added. “Somebody asked me if I wanted to smash it. I said, ‘No, I’m going to treat it with grace,’ because it helped me get through one of the roughest times of my life.”
Others shredded their bills and sheets with the words “debt,” “fake news” or “gun violence.” Tompkins said one of the most interesting items ever shredded was an X-ray of an appendix that a man had recently removed.
“He said, ‘I got rid of it, but I really wanted to get rid of it,’” Tompkins said.
Daisy O’Malley, of Coney Island, took a sledgehammer to old ceramics that had been piling up in her home. She wanted to say goodbye to the clutter in her life.
“I think a lost a few pounds doing that,” she said. “It felt good!”