For the first time in 114 years, Times Square will have no cheering crowd to welcome in the new year.
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The organizers of the highly-anticipated New Year's Eve celebration announced Wednesday that this year's event will take place virtually to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on Dec. 31,” Times Square Media Alliance president Tim Tompkins said in a press release. “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.”
According to Tompkins, the event will feature scaled-back and socially distanced live elements and an extremely limited group of socially distanced, in-person honorees who "will reflect the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020."
While no specific live events have been announced yet, the organizers noted the celebration will uphold the tradition of weaving in news, people and pop culture from the year as well as the iconic ball drop.
“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," Tompkins added. "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.”
The invited guests will range from essential workers and first responders to doctors and scientists, as well as emerging and established entertainers, musicians and artists.
Jamestown Properties, the owner of One Times Square where the ball has dropped since 1907, has built a complementary broadcast app where Americans across the country can experience the celebration.
"We will miss everyone this year but we will bring our celebration to you," Countdown Entertainment president Jeff Straus, the co-producer of the live event, said. "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."
Mayor Bill de Blasio commended the organizers for creating “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,” he said.