New Yorkers purge bad memories ahead of the New Year

A woman smashes old computers as part of "Good Riddance Day" in Times Square. Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Hoping to forget the heart-breaks and hard memories of 2013, people lined up in New York's Times Square today to throw away physical reminders of unpleasant experiences with the help of industrial shredding machines.

Shredded financial documents in a bag during "Good Riddance Day. Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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.

A couple waits to throw notes representing bad memories into a trash bin. Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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."

The event invites people to shred messages that represent memories that they want to forget. Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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.