Times Square visitors purge bad memories ahead of New Year

Times Square visitors purge bad memories ahead of New Year

SMASH ZONE: Computers and outdated electronic gadgets that have been smashed sit on a carpet during "Good Riddance Day" in Times Square in New York, Dec. 28. Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hoping to forget the heart-breaks and hard memories of 2013, people lined up in New York’s Times Square on Saturday to discard physical reminders of unpleasant experiences with the help of industrial shredding machines.

The annual Good Riddance Day event, held three days before New Year’s Eve, allows people to symbolically purge bad memories by putting photos, documents or written reminders through a massive paper shredder in hopes of clearing a path to a brighter future.

Thomas Avila, 26, one of the first people in line on for the shredder, said 2013 was a roller coaster for him. One of the hardest parts, he said, was telling friends and family he was gay and finding some of them could not accept him.

Shredding the memory was a way of saying “goodbye to my old life,” said Avila, 26, who lives in New York’s Queens borough. “I know things will get better.”

Avila had written in his note for the shredder that he was saying goodbye to “horrible debt and people who betray.”

The shredding practice on Good Riddance Day was inspired by a Latin American tradition in which New Year’s revelers stuff dolls with objects representing bad memories and set them on fire, according to the organizer, the Times Square Alliance.

For many, the shredding was an attempt to cast off bad habits or bad relationships.

“I’m shredding the reminder of finding out the truth through DNA testing that my daughter is not my biological daughter,” said Sam Tlali, 39, who was visiting from Johannesburg, South Africa.

“I think after I do this I will feel relieved,” Tlali said.

Gabby Trofa, 19, a college student from Aston, Pennsylvania, visiting New York City for New Year’s, had a different goal.

“I want to say good riddance to any stress and worries and the people who bring me down,” Trofa wrote in her note.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by David Bailey and Dan Grebler)

Latest Headlines

in Music

Tony Iommi teases fans with new songs


The Black Sabbath rocker wants to release five unheard songs by the band just weeks after they scrapped plans for another album.

in Music

Metallica looking forward to baseball season


The San Francisco Giants will hold Metallica Night for the fourth year on May 6.

in Sports

Rangers replace Maple Leafs atop hockey’s most valuable list


The Rangers, who return to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2004, were valued at $1.2 billion

in Music

Hinder back on the road after bus crash


The band was forced to postpone a string of dates following the accident in Tennessee, which left bass player Mike Rodden and two road crew members in hospital.

in Sports

Rams’ Bailey in critical condition after shooting


The suspended Rams wide receiver was shot during an incident late Tuesday night.