New York Times Square celebrates a quiet New Year’s Eve

 Friday, January 1, 2021 


For the very first time in its history, Times Square in New York was empty on New Year’s Eve as only a handful number of people were allowed to be at the location due to the existing COVID-19 restrictions. New York Times Square is one of the most bustling New Year venues in the world. Over decades, tens of thousands of people, mainly tourists gather together to be a part of the grand New Year’s celebration.

The blocks around Times Square are filled with crowd as merrymakers stand in the cold waiting for hours to see the glittering Times Square crystal ball slide down a pole mounted atop a skyscraper when the clock strikes 12. Counting the final seconds of the year, the crowd erupts in good cheer, kisses and warm hugs ringing in the New Year.

However, only a few invited guests, including health care workers and others from the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, gathered on Thursday evening in New York’s Times Square to witness the dropping of the New Year’s Eve ball, marking the end of the challenging 2020 and a welcoming the hopeful 2021.

The guests gathered at the so-called Crossroads of the World in midtown Manhattan wearing face masks and observing social distancing and watched live performances by legendary singers Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Gaynor on a temporary stage set up in the plaza. Several other New Year’s Eve events across the United States have also been similarly curtailed or moved online.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and police officials already informed New Yorkers as well as tourists to refrain from hitting the venue and watch the festivities on television. A large contingent of police officers barricaded the area to prevent unauthorised people from gathering, in order to prevent gathering at the event that could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus in a city already struggling to contain it. The Mayor mentioned in his statement that it was arguably, the most special, the most poignant, the most moving New Year’s Eve and shared that in 2021, New York will show people what recovery and come back looks like.

Despite the warnings, few people decided to arrive at the venue with the hope of getting a glimpse of the ball before police started to clear the plaza of anyone who was not authorised to be there. In order to curb the spread the virus official fireworks displays were also on cancelled in Las Vegas, Boston and beyond. On the other side of the globe, Sydney, Australia too displayed the recognised fireworks amidst empty streets with a ban on public gatherings.

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