The Scratches Take Manhattan, Part 1

The Scratches Take Manhattan 2

Since moving to Pennsylvania more than two years ago, we’d been promising the kids that we’d take them for their first visit to New York City. Delusional dreamer that I am, I had long envisioned the occasion involving an expensive overnight stay, but since we so far have been humiliatingly unsuccessful at luring our financial ship to shore, we decided it was time to temper our grandiose desires and settle for a day trip.

And though we didn’t take the Acela up from Philly, cruise a limo to a Broadway show, dine like kings and queens at Nobu and spend the night in a suite at the Plaza, we did still manage to have one hell of a good time.

In the interest of helping those of you who, like myself, have chosen a thus-far less-than-lucrative career path, I offer you …

The Official Daddy Scratches Guide to Family Fun
in New York City … for Broke-Ass People!™

Step One: Park your car at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island, where all-day parking costs just $8 Monday through Saturday, and is — hold on to your hats — FREE on Sunday! (We didn’t know about the free-Sunday-parking thing, so already we’re up $8. This day is practically paying for itself.)

Step Two: Board the ferry and ride it across the bay to Manhattan for — dig this — FREE! I know, right? The fact that they offer this service free of charge, seven days per week, is mind-boggling to me. BONUS: You’ll cruise right past the Statue of Liberty … which is far more impressive on a day when the fog isn’t thicker than pea soup.

Taking the Staten Island Ferry to NYC

If you squint real hard and use your imagination, you can almost
see Lady Liberty in the background … after you’ve finished admiring my children’s painfully forced-looking smiles, that is.

Step Three: Can’t afford those expensive tickets to a full-scale Broadway production? Not to worry: Upon disembarking from the ferry, you can treat the family to a magical performance by two shirtless dudes covered in prison tattoos!

My son volunteered to help street performers near the South Street ferry terminal in NYC

Wanna kick things up a notch? Allow the shirtless, prison-tattoo dudes to use your first-born child in their act!

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Me: “Hey, you guys, I bet they don’t let kids get on stage at ‘The Lion King’! See? This is EVEN BETTER!”

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Me: “Honey, relax! What could possibly go wrong? I mean, obviously, these guys are professionals. If they weren’t, they’d be, like, performing in the street outside a ferry terminal in lower Manhattan! Oh, wait …”

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Airborne street performer: “I’m sorry your parents don’t love you.”

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Me: “Nice job, Zan! Now let’s go find some fire jugglers for Jayna!”

Step three: Cabs are for sissies (and also for people who can afford to take a cab). Suck it up and ride the subway! Sure, you might get pushed onto the tracks by a mentally disturbed stranger … but that risk just adds to the excitement of your urban adventure!

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

Pro tip: Act casual and your kids will never know
that their lives are in danger.

Step four: Two words: Times Square, where sightseeing and people-watching is still free … mostly. (OK, that was more than two words.)

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

You’ll have great fun pointing out all the shows to which
you won’t be taking them and all the stores in which
you won’t be buying them things!

Kids' first visit to NYC, 12.02.2012

SPENDING ALERT: Lovable characters like the ones shown above line the streets of Midtown Manhattan … and by “Lovable characters” I mean “Enterprising pan-handlers who’ve secured professional-quality costumes guaranteed to lure in many children, the unsuspecting parents of whom will be expected to grease the outstretched hands of said characters after said characters have posed for a photo with said children.” (For the record: This was not a surprise to me. I mention it here as a public service. Speaking of which: It’s entirely possible that a goodly number of the folks dressed in these get-ups are registered sex offenders. You’re welcome.)

At the opposite end of the spectrum from potential pedophiles who conceal themselves in costumes, we have, of course, Times Square mainstay The Naked Cowboy:

naked cowboy


Confession: I didn’t photograph The Naked Cowboy.
This guy (who I don’t know) did … but I needed a shot of him to set up the rest of this post, so I borrowed this one.
So thank you, Guy I Don’t Know.

Zan, upon seeing The Naked Cowboy for the first time:

“He must not have gone to college!”

I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that a dude whose full-time job is to stand outside in his underwear makes more than me. Don’t believe me? According to his official website (yes, the underwear guy has an official website), he’ll preside over your wedding in Times Square for the modest price of $499 … but, you know … yay college!

Still, my questionable career choices notwithstanding, we are nonetheless living it up in the Big Apple …and we’ve barely spent a dime! Don’t worry, though: In Part 2, I’ll show you how to really blow your budget all to hell … and have a great time doing it!

Stay tuned!

To be continued in Part 2

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10 Comments

  1. Posted January 22, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh yay! A guide to Manhattan! Now I’ll know what to do should I ever get there (giving hubby the evil eye).
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: Twenty-two years, rambling about "free" money and a bit of family drama (otherwise known as: Go ahead and go to the bathroom; this is a long one)My Profile

  2. Posted January 23, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Your trip to Big Apple sounds much like ours. Also, the Natural History Museum is a donation. So, you could donate a dollar a piece or donate sixty a piece, whatever you have they’ll take. Our motto going to NYC is go cheap or go home. Oh, and take lots of pix.
    Smokeynall´s most recent blog post: The First Goalie Post.My Profile

  3. Sandy H.
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I’ve been wanting to take the kids to NYC for a while now, and I’ve only been once, when I was 16, and that was with school. In other words, we had to go where the teachers took us, and do what they wanted us to do. Fun? I hardly think so. I’ve been wanting to go back on MY terms. My husband? Eh, he has no interest. Thinks it’ll cost too much money. So hey, your guide is probably my dream come true. Thanks! Now I can show him that we CAN go for cheap, and ruin his day. :D I can’t wait!

  4. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I love NYC and only been there once, so I can’t wait to take my son with me, too bad for me it definitely involves air travel and hotel expenses, so it will have to wait
    Mexmom´s most recent blog post: The concertMy Profile

  5. Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Found you from the Pioneer Woman … this post is totally hilarious! And {scarily} true! Glad y’all enjoyed your trip and didn’t blow a hole in your budget. :)

  6. Posted January 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    This looks awesome! We’re planning to bring the oldest to NYC this spring break, I think. I haven’t been since last summer at BlogHer. Thanks for all this great intel!
    Father Muskrat´s most recent blog post: good timing manMy Profile

  7. KK
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you are back! You are freaking hysterical. Just sayin’. I have seven-year-old twins who force those same smiles. My God, they’re all gums. I love the risky leap frog. Too awesome. You made a bad day palatable so thank you.

  8. Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I’m going to NYC in May so I was searching the web for walking tour ideas. May I just say…..this. is. awesome.
    It is now my mission to find the naked cowboy.
    (Filed under “sentences never before said in the history of anything”)
    Rebecka R.´s most recent blog post: Michigan: Where the Leaves Crunch LouderMy Profile

  9. Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Ah, New York! Where The Bearded One proposed marriage to me 36 years ago on the top deck of the Staten Island Ferry as we went by the Statue of Liberty…
    sharing that with Stubble when he was about Zan’s age: priceless.
    Even though the ferry decks are now enclosed so you can’t sit on the top rail.
    I can’t wait for the second installment!

  10. Ali
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Either my phone didn’t post my comment, or it was deleted. If it was deleted, I’ll feel like a loser for posting it again.

    I basically said that we would be using your tips to take a family trip to NYC. It’s -4 here in Mass, so we might wait until Spring. And thanks to you, we’ll be steering clear of Hello Kiddie.

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