Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Home Breaking News No Crowds, but Times Square Ball Drop Is Still Happening. Here’s How.

No Crowds, but Times Square Ball Drop Is Still Happening. Here’s How.


#Every #December, the eyes of the world are drawn to #New #York #City, where a glittering crystal ball in #Midtown #Manhattan marks a communal chance for a new beginning. #Hundreds of thousands assemble in person; millions more watch on television, pausing for a moment to join an annual ritual.

#With some excitement and anticipation, they turn their eyes to #Times #Square and begin counting along, starting at …

#In #March, as the pandemic swept through #New #York #City, the groups in charge of the #New #Year’s #Eve ball drop in #Times #Square realized that things were unlikely to proceed as planned.

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#Broadway, an industry at the heart of #Times #Square’s appeal, was shutting down for months. #Large gatherings had been banned indefinitely, and several major city events had already been scrapped. #Rumors were flying in text messages and on #Twitter that officials might lock down the city.

#Organizers knew that canceling the festivities would be devastating. #New #Year’s #Eve in #Times #Square has become a symbol of a booming and vibrant #New #York #City and has been at the center of the holiday for decades.

… months before this year’s celebration, it looked as if that collective ritual, one of the few that remain in an increasingly segmented society, might be threatened.

#Tim #Tompkins, the president of the #Times #Square #Alliance, said organizers were determined to lower the ball from its perch above the city. They also knew that crowds would flock to the area as they had for more than a century, whether they planned a celebration or not.

#What remained unclear was whether and how the event’s producers would adapt the night’s other customs — the performances, the crowds and the confetti — to the reality of the pandemic.

“We knew that we had to be prepared for a crowd no matter what,” #Mr. #Tompkins said. “And then it was just a question of ‘Oh my #God, how are we going to do this?’”

#Over months of planning, an answer emerged. #This year, for the first time in decades, #Times #Square will be closed to the public on #New #Year’s #Eve. #Only production workers and dozens of selected frontline workers and their families will be permitted near the stage.

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#As it does every year, the city will close streets in the area, and police officers will operate checkpoints to prevent access. #But instead of letting in visitors in drips, all uninvited guests will be turned away, with pedestrians limited starting at 3 p.m. on #Thursday.

by-eight-foot pens will be spaced out at socially distant intervals on the streets. They will hold around 40 workers who kept the city and country running safely and smoothly in the year’s darkest hours.

#On the guest list are a pediatrician at #Elmhurst #Hospital, a public hospital that was overwhelmed by the pandemic; a pizza delivery driver who became ill with the coronavirus; and #Ronald #Colbert, a #Staten #Island #Ferry operator who will be attending his 40th #Times #Square ball drop.

“I am just so honored and happy,” said #Mr. #Colbert, 66, who worked through the pandemic. “The elements of the excitement that #Times #Square offers — I get to share that again.”

#Avenue will not be packed with people trying to catch a glimpse of the outdoor concert, which will be staged according to state and industry guidelines for safe media productions.

#This year’s musical guests include #Gloria #Gaynor singing “I #Will #Survive,” a disco classic resurfaced as a pandemic anthem, as well as performances by #Jennifer #Lopez, #Billy #Porter and #Cyndi #Lauper.

feet apart will remain the rule of thumb for the television workers who will broadcast #Times #Square’s billboards across the country. #For those who remain stuck at home, “Dick #Clark’s #New #Year’s #Rockin’ #Eve with #Ryan #Seacrest” will still rock on ABC. #In a year without party banter, #Anderson #Cooper and #Andy #Cohen will again offer their #New #Year’s #Eve buddy comedy act on CNN.

The TV networks will project the image of a #Times #Square transformed by the pandemic, one without the throngs of revelers in glittering gear who wait in the cold for hours to take part in a national spectacle.

#Still, #Mr. #Tompkins and #Jeff #Straus, the president of #Countdown #Entertainment, which co-produces the #Times #Square event, both said it was important to them that an audience of some kind be present if circumstances allowed.

“There’s an energy that you get from watching other people being happy,” #Mr. #Straus said.

#During the spring, when the pandemic ravaged #New #York #City, photos of an eerily vacant #Times #Square became a grim meme. The deserted plaza became an enduring image of the crisis and a visual shorthand for the devastating circumstances the virus had wrought.

#With 2020 closing and the calendar resetting, both men hoped they could provide a fresh start and a new narrative for one of the world’s most famous intersections.

“We want to show a city with a heartbeat,” #Mr. #Straus said. “And a city that’s alive.”

months ago, in #July, #Mr. #Straus and #Mr. #Tompkins got the first hint that a celebration resembling those years past would be possible.

#Times #Square has been home to major #New #Year’s #Eve festivities since as early as 1904, when hundreds of thousands gathered in #Midtown #Manhattan to watch fireworks light up the newly built #New #York #Times #Building, now known as #One #Times #Square.

The ball was first dropped in 1907. #Since then, it has been lowered on #New #Year’s #Eve nearly every year, with breaks only in 1942 and 1943 because of #World #War II-related “dimouts” that required lights to be shut off as a protection against air attacks.

#But even without the ball to watch, massive crowds still gathered at #Times #Square for more muted celebrations described in The #Times as having a “weird quality” in the first year but “gayer” and “greater” the next.

“So much of the energy comes from the hordes of people,” said #Mr. #Tompkins, who has been involved with the ball drop since 2002. “And so there will definitely be a different energy in #Times #Square.”

#Still, that there would be energy at all was hardly guaranteed. #Though organizers continued to plan, they nervously watched as a number of similarly large events were canceled by #Mayor #Bill de #Blasio and #Gov. #Andrew M. #Cuomo.

days into #July, however, the city worked with #Macy’s to reconfigure its annual fireworks extravaganza.

#For #Mr. #Straus and #Mr. #Tompkins, it was a clear signal that city officials were determined to preserve #New #York #City traditions while keeping people safely at home.

other events also helped prove that an altered #New #Year’s #Eve was feasible, #Mr. #Straus said.

The MTV #Video #Music #Awards offered a template for musical performances. The #Macy’s #Thanksgiving #Day #Parade showed audiences welcoming a scaled-down tradition, and the #Rockefeller #Center #Christmas tree lighting proved large-scale events could take place safely even amid a surge in the pandemic.

#Those watching the #New #Year’s #Eve ceremonies this year, whether on television or through the official online webcast, should expect a more intimate viewing experience, #Mr. #Straus said. (#People seeking something more immersive can also download an app that uses augmented reality to bring #Times #Square home.)

blocks around #Times #Square will be used for this year’s celebration, a much smaller footprint than usual. #That diminished scale will likely be clear on camera, #Mr. #Straus said. The sweeping shots showing a blocks-long street party will be axed. #Close-ups won’t show smiles, #Mr. #Straus said, because faces will be covered.

“We want to show a physically distanced #Times #Square,” #Mr. #Straus said. #We want to show a #Times #Square that is wearing masks.”

#For the first time in 26 years, #Mr. #Straus will not be in #Times #Square, showered by confetti when the clock strikes midnight.

#In a break from tradition, he will watch on TV along with much of the country as it counts down the end of a brutal year and looks to make a fresh start in the next …



[ source link ]
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/nyregion/times-square-ball-new-years.html

##Crowds ##Times ##Square ##Ball ##Drop ##Happening ##Heres

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