A Sledgehammer & Shredder In Times Square: Getting Rid Of 2015

Photographed by David Brandon Geeting.
Today in Times Square, as Elsa, Anna, and Elmo looked on, dozens of people lined up to say goodbye to the parts of 2015 they're eager to leave behind. Some carried items with actual heft: old laptops too dated to run and bags of clothes left by people no longer in their lives. Others brought ideas: "Negativity," "procrastination," and "not letting go" were scribbled on pieces of paper by folks waiting eagerly for the opportunity to drop the words into the giant shredder whirring madly on Broadway.

It was all part of an event called Good Riddance Day, which the Times Square Alliance has hosted in NYC's most popular tourist attraction for the past nine years. The goal: letting New Yorkers and visitors alike shed unwanted items and feelings from the past and get ready for the new year.

The host of the festivities, television personality Allison Hagendorf, called the buzz of the shredder a "therapeutic noise." She explained that the spot where men and women dropped their student loans and old credit card bills was a place for "positive vibes only."

The event was inspired in part by a Latin American tradition which involves burning symbols of less-than-happy events from the past year. Those waiting for their moment with the shredder seemed excited and hopeful about all the possibilities that 2016 holds for themselves and the world. And if that optimism wasn't a strong enough pull to get them to stand between the crush of tourists in the (finally) cold December air, the chance to see a man take a sledgehammer to a battered computer in sight of the Disney store was.

We asked a handful of Good Riddance Day revelers what they were ditching — and what they hoped 2016 might bring.
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Photo Courtesy of Reddit.
Adrian brought a laptop he described as "embarrassingly old" to destroy with the provided sledgehammer. He explained the computer was so slow, "I would click to open a file, take a shower, and it still wouldn't be open."

In 2016, he's hoping for peace on earth.
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Photo Courtesy of Jezebel.
Jennifer, from Brooklyn, came to shred "everything that kept me from being my truest self." That included an invitation from her canceled wedding and some of her ex's clothing.

In 2016, she's hoping for a year of focusing on herself.
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Photo Courtesy of Reddit.
Aliyah, a New York City resident, brought custom wrapping paper featuring photos of her ex. As she put it, "What better way to get rid of this?"
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Wleh and Spencer came from Baltimore to shred pieces of their 2015. For Wleh, that was insecurity and indecisiveness. For Spencer, it was hate amongst the LGBT community.

In 2016, Spencer hopes to see change and Wleh hopes to see positivity.
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Stephanie brought student loans as well as the more intangible "feeling alone and crying about it" to destroy and put behind her.

In 2016, she's hoping for "a brighter future and a little more financial success."
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Photo Courtesy of Reddit.
Kelly, originally from New York City, was saying goodbye to "poverty, 2015."

Her 2016 wish? "That I'm no longer oppressed because I'm a middle-aged, poor person."
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Photo Courtesy of YouTube.
Tanya, who came in from San Diego, was there to shred denial, which she defined as "denial of what's in front of you every moment." Keeping that idea in mind, she said she has no specific hopes pinned to the coming year.
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Photo Courtesy of Giphy.
Sky, from New York City, said the shredding event was just what she needed. She was saying goodbye to "early mornings."

And in 2016 she's hoping for, of course, "a little more sleep."