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WVU bowl fans will find plenty to do in Big Apple

Courtesy photo
The West Virginia Mountaineers will take on the Syracuse Orange at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
AP Photo The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is lit during the 80th annual tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center in New York.
AP Photo Workers unload the number 13 to be used during the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square as members of the media got their first glance of the light-up number.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mountaineer fans traveling to New York City for the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday may feel overwhelmed by all the options the Big Apple has for visitors, but some West Virginia University graduates who call the city home have their tips for the must-see spots in NYC.

The WVU Alumni Association and its New York-New Jersey Metro Chapter will host a welcome social on Friday at the Hudson Station at 440 Ninth Ave.

Beginning at noon on Saturday, the day of the game, Rathbones (1702 Second Ave.) will host a Mountaineer Meet and Greet, featuring giveaways, food and drink specials, highlight videos and free subway passes for the first 100 fans who show their game tickets.

Also at noon on Saturday, the bowl game will host a Band Showcase at McCombs Park (adjacent to Yankee Stadium). Alumni and fans are encouraged to stop by for this special performance by The Pride of West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band and pick up WVU fan giveaways, according to the school.

For those fans who plan on spending a little more time in New York City, 2008 WVU graduate Michelle Gilbert said just walking around the city and taking in the sights is one of her favorite things to do.

Gilbert said visitors should make sure to get a glance at the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building, both on Fifth Avenue, and the Chrysler Building on Lexington Avenue.

"The buildings are just so beautiful and amazing to look at," Gilbert said.

Don't miss out on Central Park, she said, which is home to the Central Park Zoo, numerous statues (from Alexander Hamilton and Alice in Wonderland to Daniel Webster and Ludwig von Beethoven) and the carousel, one of Central Park's most famous attractions.

She said people should also make a special stop at Belvedere Castle in Central Park, which was built in 1869 by Calvert Vaux and overlooks the Great Lawn -- a 55-acre lawn that is the heart of the park. The castle provides the highest views of the park and the cityscape and it's name means "beautiful view" in Italian.

For locations on specific sites in Central Park, visit www.centralparknyc.org.

Gilbert said although it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Central Park, people shouldn't overlook the 585-acre Prospect Park, just over the Brooklyn Bridge.

The east side of the park home to botanical gardens, while the west side is rimmed with numerous shops and restaurants, she said.

Gilbert said making the trek to Prospect Park will also allow visitors to get "one of the most amazing views of New York City" if they walk over the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan.

"It's breathtaking," she said.

For some good eats, Gilbert said to try St. Marks Burger on St. Mark's Place in the East Village. The menu there specializes in sliders and inventive milkshakes. (She said the candied bacon shake and the Guinness shake are personal favorites.)

Fellow WVU graduate Sarah Lemanski said if people know their heritage, they should try to find that neighborhood in the city to get some authentic cuisine. Little Italy is centered on Mulberry Street, and Chinatown, another favorite, stretches from East Broadway to Broadway near Canal Street.

"Honestly, there are so many place in NYC that in my three years of living here, I've never heard of a lot of places. I read just the other day that it would take more than 11 years to eat at every restaurant in NYC if you dined out every night at a new place," Gilbert said.

She encouraged everyone to try something new.

Visitors who want to take in all New York has to offer during the holiday season should take a walk down Fifth Avenue to see the decorated window displays. A stop over at Times Square will let people see the setup for the annual New Year's Eve ball drop, which will be taking place just a few days after the bowl game.

People up to the challenge the brave the cold -- and the crowds -- on New Year's Eve should plan to arrive at Times Square early in the morning to secure a good spot for the ball drop.

Clarksburg native Emily Shaffer said ice skating at Rockefeller Center is a must, but if people are worried about crowds they can head over to Bryant Park on the Avenue of Americas to skate.

Admission to the Rockefeller Center rink is $25 for adults and $15 for children. Skate rentals are an additional $10.

But stopping and looking at the Rockefeller Center tree, which is decorated with 30,000 LED bulbs that stretch across five miles of wire, according to TimeOut New York, is free.

For another free light show, head over to Madison Square Park to see a pair of illuminated geodesic spheres, one inside the other.

The 20-feet-in-diameter Buckyball sculpture by artist Leo Villareal is composed of multicolored LED tubes that put on a changing light show. Lounging in one of the surrounding wooden zero gravity chairs will make the viewing a special experience.

Lemanski added that visitors should avoid cabs if possible, and take time to walk around the city.

"Walking and riding the subway is the best way to get a feel for New York City. You get to see so much and actually experience the different people and sounds and smells," she said.

"You can see where Bob Dylan hung out or where the Beat generation lived. Every famous person has spent time here, so you're constantly walking in their footprints," Lemanski said.

People interested in art can check out any of the more than 80 museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.

For something new, the Museum of Mathematics on East 26th St between Fifth and Madison avenues opened its doors on Dec. 15. The museum is not just a learning experience, but "a place to realize all the remarkable things math can be used to create.

Its more than 30 interactive exhibits include the Wall of Fire, a laser "wall" that shows visitors that cross-sections aren't always what you think they are; and Math Square, a Jumbotron on the floor that connects each person standing on it by the shortest path possible, changing the moment anyone moves, according to TimeOut New York.

Admission to the museum is $15 for adults and $9 for children.

For additional information regarding the Pinstripe Bowl, including various events, visit http://web.pinstripebowl.com/index.

Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathryng@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.


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