If there were doubts whether the accelerated advance of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in New York City would force a postponement at the last minute iconic and massive celebration New Year’s Eve in Times Square, this Thursday outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio cleared them completely: “Our celebration goes. We want to show the world that the city is making its way through adversity.
The world famous Big Apple event that will see off 2021, will be marked by pandemic restrictions, when the COVID-19 infection rate shoots up over 20% of the total of the discard tests carried out, when at the beginning of December it did not exceed 2%.
The annual descent of the sphere in the heart of Manhattan is one of the largest and most historic celebrations in the world. In recent years, until 100,000 people They used to spend New Year’s Eve in the Times Square area, and millions more watched it on television and digital media.
This time it will be different: only 15,000 people who must show proof of vaccines will be able to enter the observation areas this Friday, December 31, as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus.
But despite the 75% decline in the number of participants and with less fanfare over fears of the virus surge, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) will make a “significant” deployment of troops to ensure the safety of the attendees.
Road safety and closure
In Manhattan, streets 38 to 59 between Fifth and Ninth avenues will be closed to vehicular traffic from 4 in the morning this Friday.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, perhaps in his last announcement in that position, made it clear that “there are no current threats to the city, But our security operation will not neglect any detail or alert ”.
Several entrances to the Subway will also be closed: 42nd Street, 7th Avenue y 47th Street at the entrance of Broadway avenue.
In addition, there will be Uniformed officers on site to guarantee access to anyone who lives or works in buildings around the area. To do this, they must provide evidence of any reservation or that they work or live in the closed areas.
Large bags, lawn chairs, and alcohol will be prohibited in the viewing areas.
The NYPD intelligence chief Thomas Galati reported that the troops will be vigilant throughout the ceremony area, backed up with state-of-the-art devices to detect explosives, as well as components of the canine brigade.
All attendees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, with an identification that includes a photograph. They will also need to wear a mask throughout the activity.
Times Square Alliance takes care of the details
In the surroundings of the so-called Crossroads of the World, this Thursday when there were only hours to say goodbye to the old year, thousands of tourists and residents observed the evidence of the rise and fall of the light sphere which will symbolize the start of 2022 on your scoreboard.
The organizers of the Times Square Alliance tested all the details of the ascent of the immense ball known for its lighting effects, capable of displaying 16 million vibrant colors.
On several occasions the technical team detailed the displacement of this famous artifact of 12 feet in diameter and 11,875 pounds, which will once again be displayed before the eyes of millions, on a 130 foot structure.
There at the foot of the building One Times Square they were Chileans Francisco and Celinda Valencia, who came from Chile just to “experience the excitement” of the New Year in the Big Apple.
“We want to participate and see this great event. We know that there are restrictions and that it will only be for those vaccinated. We brought our triple immunization tests from our country. If we have the opportunity to come, we will, ”commented Francisco.
With the same expectation he found a group of young visitors from Medellín, who were informed about the procedures to attend the ceremony with officials of the Uniformed.
“Despite everything, since we are here to visit, we want to live this experience” Juliana, one of the tourists.
Party on the edge of criticism
In contrast, for some residents of the Big Apple the one who this event has not been canceled that attracts the attention of the whole world is an act of “Political irresponsibility”.
“Yesterday I read that there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the police and they are going to force hundreds of them to work in the middle of a complicated situation with a new wave of this virus. All over the world all these revolú (mess) They are canceling them. But here they want to continue with the party, “he said. Miguel Santiago, a former NYPD officer, who lives in Harlem.
Mayor De Blasio, just hours after leaving office, defended his stance to move on with this mass act, under the argument that more than 91% of New York adults they had received at least some dose of the vaccine. He also argued that access would be limited to guarantee social distancing.
On the edge of this decision, elected leaders and members of the scientific community They suggested that it is an activity that can become a trigger for more infections.
Such is the case of Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, who exposed in an interview in The New York Times that “even with limited attendance, vaccination requirements, and facial coverage, the Times Square meeting it is not risk-free ”.
The incoming president of the borough of Manhattan, Mark Levine: “Unfortunately, I don’t think we should have a crowd in Times Square in the run-up to the New Year ”.
Adams to be sworn in as mayor under the lights of Times Square
The launch of the illuminated ball, with 2,688 crystal triangles, on the roof of the One Times Square building, a tradition that began in 1907, will have an additional significance this year: Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced that his inauguration ceremony will take place out there, shortly after the arrival of the new year.
“This space has long been synonymous with the new year: a place of excitement, renewal and hope for the future. These are the same themes that animated my campaign. I am deeply honored to be officially sworn in on this occasion, ”said Adams.
The Democrat elected last November will be sworn in as the 110 Mayor of New York City, in the first minutes of January, shortly after the crystal ball falls and the 60 seconds are counted on the iconic giant screen to receive 2022.
The city clerk will use the Adams family Bible, to take the oath in the first minutes of the new year, in one of the most touristic places in the world.
The current Brooklyn Borough President, who will become the second African-American in history to direct the destinies of the Big Apple, amid escalating coronavirus, recently canceled a planned inauguration ceremony. for this Saturday night at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn.
“After the fall of the ball and my swearing in I will go to celebrate with my family and take a bath with rose water and incense “, Adams detailed before a journalistic concern when he presented his plan to face the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Tom Harris, president of the Alianza Times Square He reacted to feel “honored” that the new president has chosen this position for the official act of transfer of power.
“The New Year is a time to look to the future and we look forward to working with Mayor-elect Adams to continue the Times Square recovery and the rest of our city, ”Harris said.
Where to see this event?
- The New Years Eve event in Times Square will be broadcast live and commercial-free on various websites, including TimesSquareNYC.org, NewYearsEve.nyc, LiveStream.com/2022, and TimesSquareBall.net.
- The event can generally be enjoyed on practically all local television networks from 6:00 pm
How can you see it in person?
- The entrance is totally free, in this edition will be subject to vaccination tests and reduced capacity of the event in this 2021. For more details see: TimesSquareNYC.org
- Entry points will be established on Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue between 38th and 56th streets.
- The nearest Subway stop es Times Square-42nd Street.
- Given the amount of people that are at that station on New Year’s Eve, it is recommended to get off at a station close and walk.
1 billion people on average they see the movement of the luminous ball in Times Square on television all over the world.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.