Missing Times Square’s New Year’s Eve anew   

By Alex P. Vidal

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”—Charles Lamb

IT’S always in the heart and mind of every New Yorker to be present during the spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration at Times Square every year.

But Times Square, a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, entertainment center, and neighborhood in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, can’t accommodate us all.

In the previous stagings, most of those who monitored on cable news around the world and in the United States, would want to be there either in reality or imagination.

Some of those who have lived in this magnificent and most densely populated major city in the United States with a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over 300.46 square miles, consider themselves luckier for having physically attended the past programs.

But we’ll surely miss the celebration for the second straight year because of the pandemic, which also dashed to pieces our excitement when 2020 bade goodbye.

The same culprit, now in the form of Omicron variant, will again pose as a major roadblock in our quest to be there when 2021 says adieu days from now.

The headlining acts are now set to ring in 2022 against the backdrop of a surging COVID-19 variant that has already limited crowd sizes and put in place new protocols.


It’s almost for sure we can’t make it there. Before Christmas Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced details for a scaled back bash, with additional protections in place to ensure a safe celebration.

In addition to requiring proof of full vaccination with valid photo identification and being fully outdoors, attendees would be also required to wear masks just like last year even as viewing areas would be filled with fewer people to allow for social distancing.

Made in consultation with health and medical experts, authorities said these additional safety measures would keep revelers safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year.

In partnership with Times Square Alliance, New York City government said it would continue to monitor the situation and take additional precautions and measures if needed.

“New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously over the past year—we are leading the way on vaccinations, we have reopened safely, and every day we work toward building a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “There is a lot to celebrate and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year.”

There will be modified plans for New York City’s fully vaccinated celebration at the Crossroads of the World, where a limited crowd will be allowed to celebrate while wearing face masks. NBC New York confirmed that capacity will be capped at roughly 15,000 people, nearly four times less than the non-pandemic crowd.


Visitors will not be permitted entry until 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, which is much later than prior years. Proof of full vaccination—meaning the last dose of the regimen was at least 14 days before New Year’s Eve—with valid photo identification will remain required as the mayor had previously announced.

Attendees aged 5 and up will be required to also present proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the event. Minors not yet eligible for vaccination can still attend the Times Square bash but must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.

Anyone who can’t get vaccinated because of a disability must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event as well.

Headlining the spectacle will be Grammy-nominated singer KT Tunstall, known for her hit song “Suddenly I See,” according to NBC New York. Joining the Scottish singer-songwriter on Dec. 31 is LL Cool J, Chlöe, Journey and Karol G.

Celebrations kickoff around 6 p.m. with the rising of the New Year’s Eve Ball and an opening cultural dance celebration presented by the Sino-American Friendship Association.

City hall warned more could change in the coming days, though. The event is outdoors and for fully vaccinated people only, but Omicron’s stunning dominance over New York City in just the last few weeks means officials are allowing room for any additional changes if needed.

“There is a lot to celebrate and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year,” de Blasio said, noting the city’s success in getting residents vaccinated while also keeping businesses open.

“New York is the best place in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve and now it will be one of the safest against COVID as well,” Mayor-elect Eric Adams said in a written statement endorsing the new precautions. “New Yorkers and visitors alike can now enjoy Times Square and the rest of our city as we ring in 2022.”

At an earlier, unrelated event, a more exuberant de Blasio said for the third time in as many days that Omicron would be a setback but not stall the city’s progress.

“We are not shutting down. We are not falling back. We are going to fight our way through this,” the mayor said at the event in Brooklyn — and reminded people of the $100 cash his administration is offering to get boosted before the new year.

“At this moment, all eyes are on New York City and a festive, safe, vaccinated, and masked, outdoor celebration like New Year’s Eve in Times Square is exactly what we all need, now more than ever, to bid farewell and good riddance to 2021, as we look forward to celebrating a new year when we follow the science to remain open and safely welcome New Yorkers and visitors back to the Crossroads of the World.”

Last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration was a socially distanced affair, attended by small groups of essential workers. It would come back at “full strength” to ring in 2022, assured de Blasio.

That won’t be the case now. Omicron has already reportedly usurped the delta variant as the most dominant COVID strain in the United States, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all new cases last week.

In the New York area, the CDC estimates the variant’s prevalence has topped 90 percent.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo.-Ed)