New Yorkers usually like to avoid Times Square in general — but especially on New Year’s Eve, when upwards of 1 million people converge to watch the ball drop.
But for Raul De Molina, there’s no place else he’d rather be. The TV host has been covering the ball drop for nearly 20 years for Univision.
amNewYork spoke with De Molina, who lives in Miami, about what it’s like to cover the event.
How did you end up covering New Year’s Eve in Times Square?
I used to go to Times Square before I worked on TV. I would go and get a room with my wife overlooking Times Square. At midnight we’d open a bottle of Champagne, look at the people in Times Square then go to sleep. When I came to the Univision Network, I suggested to them, Why don’t we do a show from Times Square? We used to do it in Miami, but everyone else does it from New York, so you need to be in Times Square.
How do you prepare for the coverage?
I start around 9 p.m. and finish around 1 a.m. We interview different celebrities, we have a few that sing in Times Square that are Hispanic celebrities. At 11 p.m. we also welcome the new year for viewers in Puerto Rico since they’re one hour ahead.
Why do you think New Year’s Eve in Times Square is such a big event year after year?
I think it’s a tradition. People travel from all over the world to be in New York in Times Square on Dec. 31. I run into people from Venezuela, Brazil, Spain. People feel it’s the most important place to be on Dec. 31. There’s no other place to be in the world.
What’s the energy like?
When you’re looking at Times Square like I do, from the Marriott Marquis, you can look all the way down almost to Central Park. You see all the people who have been lining up since early in the morning — that’s an incredible place to be. There’s nothing else like it in the world. You could be at a major sporting event or concert and you will never get the amount of people who are there.
How do you stay warm?
Like most people, I wear gloves, thermal underwear, I have a good coat. Still, my fingers always get frozen during the time that I’m there. It doesn’t matter what clothes I wear, my fingers always get frozen.
Any memorable broadcasts?
One year, about seven years ago, I lost my voice on Dec. 31 in the morning. I didn’t know what to do. They were able to get a doctor, he told me the only way to have my voice back was a shot of cortisone. My voice came back right at 9 p.m., right before the show started.