For the first time in more than 100 years, New York City's Times Square will be virtually empty on New Year's Eve—and going virtual. Via a statement to Fox News, organizers of the holiday event say that, with the exception of "an extremely limited group of in-person honorees" who will be socially distanced, the ball-drop festivities will be markedly different. "There will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual, and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences" take place, according to Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. The event will focus on health care workers, first responders, and others who've been on the front lines of the pandemic, but won't dwell too long on the past year like it usually does. "No one needs to be reminded of what the dominant news of 2020 has been so far," Tompkins notes.
The alliance notes that the famous Times Square ball drop has taken place every year since 1907, except for in 1942 and '43, when there was a wartime dimming of lights in the city. People still gathered in the streets to celebrate during those two years, though, meaning this will be the first time in more than a century that Times Square won't be filled with celebrants singing "Auld Lang Syne." NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the alliance for coming up with a "safe, creative, and innovative" plan to carry on with the annual event, per Gothamist, which notes the city's yearly Thanksgiving Day parade will also be sans crowds. (Read more Times Square stories.)