The British boy band One Direction may not be performing live on NBC‘s Today Show until tomorrow, but fans have been lining up outside Rockefeller Plaza since Thursday, Nov. 8. Loyal “directioners”—as fans are called—took advantage of an unseasonably warm weekend and a day off from school today for Veterans Day.
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The sidewalks are now covered in fleece blankets, tailgating chairs, garbage bags overflowing with personal belongings and posters with sayings like “115 hours camping out for 1D” scribbled in glitter.
One Today Show staffer tweeted at 7:25 a.m. that the line of fans extended from West 48th street to 52nd street. So many fans poured into the area over the weekend that security guards started asking them to pack up this afternoon after they were given orange wristbands with their spot on the line handwritten in black marker. They were told to come back at 2 a.m. to get a spot in the Today Show production area. A guard in a gray suit told TIME that about 600 orange wristbands were handed out.
“We can’t let the line go to Central Park,” he said, shaking his head and pointing to a line of girls sitting on the subway grates along Sixth Avenue between West 48th and West 49th streets that he foresaw making its way up to the park’s entrance ten blocks away. “There are just way too many people, and now they are starting to block the bus lane.”
On West 48th street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, girls with special Fan Passes camped out behind New York Police Department metal barricades. They were surrounded by pizza boxes, nail polish and a cardboard cutout of One Direction band member Louis Tomlinson.
Jessica Deacon, 21, was sitting on the sidewalk, grinning from ear to ear even though she was still recovering from jaw surgery that she had a month ago.
“I listened to One Direction while my jaw was wired shut, and I’m convinced they helped me heal,” she said. “My dad’s here with me because he was afraid I was going to get punched in the face. I mean, if anything happened, we’re right across the street from a drug store.”
Fans of One Direction like Mahbuba Rahman, 19, from Queens and her friend Alice Mitkova, 18, a Baruch College student from Brooklyn, taped a sign to a barricade that said they had been camping out since “3:00 p.m. on Thursday.” A Today Show crew member rushed out with a plate of sandwiches and handed them to the girls. “It’s a plain mad house here, totally out of hand,” he said. “We expect there to be about 10,000 people here tomorrow.”
Rob Cassidy, 20, came all the way from Toms River on the Jersey Shore with his sisters Dianna and Maggie. “Sandy hit us hard. We needed some Direction in our lives,” he said.
Jordan DeVito and Erin Goeringer, both 15-year-old fans from Park Slope, Brooklyn, began camping out last night behind New York Police Department barricades along Sixth Avenue off West 48 Street. But they soon got tired of sitting around and thought they would have a better chance of seeing the One Direction stars if they found their hotel. So at 11:00 p.m. they took off and wandered around to midtown hotels like The London NYC and the W New York-Times Square until 4:00 a.m. But no luck.
The band “is one of the only things that makes me happy,” Goeringer said.
The girls said they almost got to meet the pop stars when they spotted them near The London NYC in April. They jumped into a taxi and followed them to the airport.
“We will not give up,” DeVito said.
Their parents, however, were not as concerned about their daughters camping out as much as they were about the girls trying to chase the boys in the middle of the night. “We didn’t know about any of this,” said Erin Goeringer’s mother Laurie Goeringer, who was standing next to Jordan’s mother Alysson DeVito and holding the girls’ belongings. “We think it’s safe for them to stay overnight on the street if all of these security guards are posted out here. When the girls said they wanted to do this, we came over and brought them blankets, headrests, chairs.”
The mothers are generally supportive of their daughters’ obsession — as long as they keep their grades up. “We told the girls we would buy them concert tickets if they stayed on the honor roll,” Laurie Goeringer said. The girls got the day off from school today because of Veterans Day, and the mothers are letting them skip school tomorrow to recuperate.
The band’s album comes out tomorrow, Nov. 13.