Bieber Fever got a lot riskier today as Winter Storm Nemo rages in the Northeast. In New York City, this meant freezing rain and sleet at about noon Friday. But nothing – not even soaked sleeping bags or broken umbrellas—could get between about 45 fans and Justin Bieber. The singer is hosting Saturday Night Live tomorrow night, and the Beliebers were desperate for tickets.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: They know you all think they’re nuts. It would have been an undertaking to sleep outside in February, and that was before the weather took a turn for the worse. Everyone EW spoke with said it was the craziest thing they’d ever done. Kaitlyn Marhelko, from Pennsylvania, knew the chances to get tickets were slim. But that didn’t deter her. “If you ever get a chance to do something like this, you do it no matter what kind of weather is coming your way. It’s an awesome experience, and this might sound cliché, but you really do only live once. It is cool to try.” She and her friend Ashleigh Bagnata had been in line for about two hours and were still enthusiastic.
They spoke excitedly about their longtime love of Bieber, how much they enjoyed his new acoustic album (which the SNL appearance is helping to promote) and how cute he is. And their parents don’t seem to mind: “My mom encouraged [it],” Bagnata – the bigger fan of the two – explained. “She’s like, ‘Go buy a tent, go buy a sleeping bag, whatever you need.’ I was like, ‘Mom, that’s going to be a lot of money.’ She said: ‘I don’t care, we can always reuse it.’ She’s not a fan, but she knows I like him, so she’s kind of okay with it and she encourages it because she knows he’s not here very often…I just find him adorable – everything he does. I’m very excited [he’s doing the Valentine’s Day show] and I’m just hoping we get to be in there to see it.”
Lest you think it was just a bunch of 18- and 19-year-old girls, this reporter counted at last five guys among the crew. One, 18-year-old Mike Egues, might win the Boyfriend of the Year Award. He’d been in line overnight, waiting for his girlfriend to return. When asked about the convenience of his girlfriend getting out of the cold, Egues laughed. “[Do I think my girlfriend] stood me up for Justin Bieber? Maybe, I’m not sure. She’s back here on her way but I have to sit in the cold [now] by myself. [Bieber] sounds good, you can’t take that away from him. My girlfriend, she’s more obsessed with him than me. It’s Valentine’s Day, so I just thought…eh, [fine].”
The oldest of all the people we talked to was 24-year-old Dana Arcidy, from New York City, who arrived in line Thursday night. She stressed that she’d never done anything like this before. “My friends are ashamed of me,” Arcidy said laughing. “Honestly, [I’ve not been a fan] that long. I’ve always liked his music, but it’s only within the past year that he’s had his more grown-up sound. A year ago, I never thought I’d be out here in a blizzard, but I really love his new album.”
While Arcidy said she didn’t feel prepared for the weather (she only had with her a sleeping bag, which was entirely soaked through), 18-year-old Tanya Smithers, from Buffalo, NY, who was part of a four-person group that was first in line, felt she had it all under control. “We’ve got tons of blankets,” Smithers said. “We brought tarps, and some guy gave us this plastic thing to put over our bags.” The most upbeat of the people EW spoke with, it was obvious she had no qualms about waiting outside – even though she’d been there since 11 a.m. Thursday. “I’m just excited,” Smithers explained. “I don’t know what face I’m going to make when I see him. I’ve been thinking this out the whole time, what I’m going to do.”
She paused for a moment, then smiled. “I’m not even cold to be honest. We’re used to it.”