Times Square’s New Year’s Eve celebration to be held virtually this year

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REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

For the first time in decades, Times Square will be devoid of massive crowds when the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s — the perfect end to a year marred by COVID-19.

With New Year’s Day just 100 days away, the organizers of the annual Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration is giving New Yorkers a peek at how the gathering will look amid the pandemic.

It will look nothing like past New Year’s celebrations, when millions braved all kinds of conditions to pack into the Crossroads of the World to count down the end of one year and the start of another.

Scaled-back and socially distanced live elements are still to be determined. There will be an extremely limited group of in-person honorees, socially distanced, who will reflect the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020.

“We will miss everyone this year but we will bring our celebration to you. Whether you want to turn off and turn away from the bad news of 2020, or turn to the new year with a sense of hope, renewal and resolution, you’ll be able to join us virtually like never before as part of the Times Square 2021 celebration,” said Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment.

“One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on Dec. 31,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, which co-produces the event with Countdown Entertainment. “But this year there will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences — still in development — will take place in Times Square. And because any opportunity to be live in Times Square will be pre-determined and extremely limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be the opportunity to participate virtually wherever you are. Because more than ever in these divided and fear-filled times, the world desperately needs to come together symbolically and virtually to celebrate the people and things we love and to look forward with a sense of renewal and new beginnings.”

As in past years, news, people and pop culture from the year will be woven into the annual celebration. Through digital, virtual and in-person means, the organizers and Jamestown will invite the world to participate in a celebration of the best of the human spirit, across different categories, ranging from essential workers and first responders to doctors and scientists, and of course both emerging and established entertainers, musicians and artists.

“No one needs to be reminded of what the dominant news of 2020 has been so far: COVID-19 and a host of racial, economic and climate crises. Through a limited number of honored guests we will note where we’ve been but more importantly we will honor and celebrate the courageous and creative spirits who have helped and will help us travel through these challenging times into the New Year,” said Tompkins.  “More details to come; either way, we will be celebrating with you in some form on the 31st.”

“People all over the globe are ready to join New Yorkers in welcoming in the new year with the iconic Ball Drop. I commend the Times Square Alliance, Jamestown Properties and Countdown Entertainment on finding a safe, creative and innovative way for all of us to continue to celebrate this century-old tradition. A new year means a fresh start, and we’re excited to celebrate,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

This story originally appeared on amny.com