Times square visitors purge bad memories ahead of the new year
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 think after I do this I will feel relieved," Tlali said.
"I want to say good riddance to any stress and worries and the people who bring me down," Trofa wrote in her note.