A numerous crowd is forming for NYC New Year’s Eve festivities as revelers gather to ‘drop the ball’ on this past year and move forward into 2022 despite hundreds of thousands of Omicron cases sweeping the nation and the city.
Around 15,000 spectators have begun gathering for the Times Square celebration in spite of the recent spike of the state’s cases which saw a record of 76,555 cases.
Despite this, thousands of partygoers were seen huddled in the square wearing typical celebration garb including funky hats, bead necklaces and of course 2022 glasses.
Lines of traffic jampacked the city streets throughout the day in preparation for the mega-holiday event.
Public officials cautioned on Friday against uncontrolled celebrations due to the surging case numbers.
The city said it would limit the number of people it lets into Times Square to witness a 6-ton ball, encrusted with nearly 2,700 Waterford crystals, descend above a crowd of the in-person spectators — far fewer than the many tens of thousands of revelers who usually descend on the world-famous square to bask in the lights, hoopla and shower of confetti during the nation’s marquee New Year’s Eve event.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced the scaled-back celebration, is also overseeing in on the city’s festivities which he said will ‘show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this.’
Officials said those attending the spectacle would have to wear masks and show proof of vaccination over caution of the widespread infections.
Rap artist and actor LL Cool J was supposed to be among the performers taking the stage in Times Square Friday night, but announced he would pull out of the event because he had tested positive for COVID.
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have soared to their highest levels on record at over 265,000 per day on average. New York City reported a record number of new, confirmed cases — nearly 44,000 — on Wednesday and a similar number Thursday, according to New York state figures.
Thousands of spectators pack in for the New Years Eve celebration in Times Square despite the surge in COVID cases and the presence of the new Omicron variant
Event spectators prepare for the world-famous ball drop event which had been closed to public last year because of the pandemic
Spectators wear traditional New Year’s Eve garb including 2022 themed glasses, hats and scarves
The crowd will however remain reduced due to the effects of the Omicron surge hitting NYC and the rest of the US
As part of the attendance requirement, spectators must remain masked and have proof of vaccination
The New Year’s celebration comes after last year’s celebration had been closed to the public because of the pandemic.
‘We are very excited to welcome back visitors to Times Square this New Year’s Eve,’ said Tom Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance.
‘Our goal is to have a safe and responsible event for the world to see.’
But 2022 begins just as the year prior began — with the pandemic clouding an already uncertain future.
Doubts swirled about whether the city would have to cancel this year’s bash, as the city posted record numbers of COVID cases in the days leading to it, even as some cities like Atlanta had decided to cancel their own celebrations.
The 2022 sign that will be lit on top of a building on New Year’s Eve is displayed in Times Square preparation for the event
Masked NYC partygoers bear 2022 glasses and fun ‘Happy New Year’ headbands
Revelers brace the NYC winter cold in anticipation of the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square
Spectators will continue to swarm in to watch the 6-ton ball, encrusted with nearly 2,700 Waterford crystals descend above them
Internet sensation Liza Koshy is co-hosting ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ with Ryan Seacrest
Pop singer Ashanti will join in and perform for the NYC New Year’s Eve celebration
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of new cases in America are of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered last month by South African health officials.
The U.S. is now averaging 300,387 new Covid cases per day, a pandemic record and the first time the 300,000 mark has been reached in America.
New York state recorded 76,500 COVID cases on Friday, up from yesterday’s record of 67,000, governor Kathy Hochul announced.
Currently there are 3,925 New Yorkers in hospital and 80 people died yesterday from Covid, the governor said.
However, the surge in cases has not stopped the celebration from continuing with the hopes of a mild year with COVID in store.
‘I don’t believe in shutdowns,’ de Blasio told the Today show on Thursday. ‘We have to fight our way through this.’ De Blasio’s statement is in sharp contrast to his actions taken during the pandemic, when New York City shut down for months in 2020.
New York City’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, is scheduled to take his oath in Times Square soon after the ball drop and he expressed hope Thursday that 2022 would be ‘a new beginning of our resiliency.’
Mayor-elect Adams also doubled down on the New Year’s celebration, announcing that he will hold his swearing-in ceremony during the festivities after canceling his in-person inauguration that was set for Saturday.
College students and sisters Mary and Vanessa Anyakwo were guardedly optimistic, too, as they took in Times Square on an outing from their home in suburban Elmsford, New York.
‘I feel a lot more hopeful than I was last year because I think we have a lot more facilities’ to handle the pandemic, said Mary, 20.
Vanessa, 22, pointed to the crowds. ‘By this time last year,’ she said, ‘I didn’t think it would be like this.’
Paulo Brügger, a banker from Zurich, Switzerland, reflected on a world fed-up with having to endure wave after wave of the virus a year after 2021 dawned with hopes bottled up in vaccine vials.
His optimism was tempered by the world’s new reality that the pandemic would linger into the new year.
‘A lot of people are asking themselves now, ‘Is this going to be like this every year — when we get into the cold season, we have a new variant, and we are back to square one?’’ said Brügger, 55.
Still, he was ‘extremely optimistic’ about 2022, partly because of vaccines and new therapies against COVID-19 and partly, he said with a chuckle, ‘because it can’t be worse than the last two years.’
The New Year’s Eve Ball is illuminated and elevated near a ‘2022 is here’ sign for a final test ahead of New Year’s Eve on Friday
Teddy, a 12-year-old miniature poodle wearing 2022 glasses, sits on West 47th Street ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square on Friday afternoon
Revelers take photos with Times Square staple The Naked Cowboy as they prepare for tonight’s ball drop to ring in 2022
The crowd starts getting pumped up, including a man who pulls down his mask to cheer ahead of tonight’s New Year Eve celebrations in Times Square
Revelers wait in social distancing pens in Times Square ahead of celebrating New Year’s Eve on Friday as crowds begin to form
A couple wearing face masks and funky hats look on ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square on Friday
People gather at the security entrance in Times Square ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Revelers are required to show proof of vaccination and be masked
An NYPD officer performs a security check on a person at Times Square before tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations
NYPD officers perform security checks in Times Square where 15,000 revelers will ring in the New Year by watching the ball drop
People wear their 2022 glasses as they prepare to ring in the new year at the world-famous Times Square ball drop
Spectators flash the peace sign while wearing their face masks, 2022 glasses and festive hats as they prepare to ring in the new year
An NYPD officer stands next to a signage encouraging people to wear masks ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square as COVID-19 infections rise nationwide
An empty Times Square that will soon be packed with 15,000 spectators who will watch the ball drop to celebrate the new year
Final preparations and set up for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square amid a huge Omicron surge that has overtaken New York City
People being gathering at West 47th Street ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, a huge tourist attraction that brings thousands of people to NYC every year
NYPD officers stand guard at Times Square ahead of tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations expected to bring out 15.000 revelers