By Reena Bhardwaj
New York [US], January 1 (ANI): The iconic Times Square New Years' ball is set to be virtual this year as the coronavirus cases continue to surge in the United States especially in the state of New York.
For the last 113 years, excited crowds have gathered at the Times Square on New Year's Eve to bring in the New Year as they brave the bitter cold watching the ball drop at midnight, signalling the start of a new year.
But for the first time probably in history, the New Year's Eve event will be totally virtual this year due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
But while there won't be a crowd gathered in New York City this year, there will still be a ball drop--and you can tune in to watch it from anywhere in the world.
This year's New Year's Eve program begins at 6 p.m. EST on December 31 and will run through the ball drop at midnight. Hosted by Jonathan Bennett, the live broadcast will include live musical performances by Gloria Gaynor and other not-yet-announced artists.
According to the official Times Square Twitter account, the theme of this year's New Year's Eve celebration is Heroes of 2020. The program will honor first responders, frontline workers, essential workers, and their families.
"The official Special Guests of Times Square New Year's Eve 2021 are the "Heroes of 2020": those whose courage, creativity and spirit -- expressed in many ways, day in and day out -- helped the city and the surrounding area get through an unprecedented year," the official Time Square website read.
The website further stated that the "Heroes of 2020" would comprise of 39 individuals and their families, representing a sampling of first responders, frontline workers, researchers, artists and activists who sacrificed in 2020 to provide care and support for their communities.
"These stories are symbolic of family stories in every community in every state across the country and around the world... This year, due to onsite social distancing protocols, the Special Guests will not appear on stage. Instead, each guest will watch the festivities from a private, physically distanced viewing area with their family or loved ones from their household unit," it read further.
The ball--which is officially titled the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve Ball--descends on Times Square at midnight Eastern time that can be watched on the official website.
This year, there will be an 80 percent reduction in the police complement, which still means many hundreds of officers working to keep people safe -- and out, The New York Times reported.
"I'm more looking forward to burying 2020 than looking forward to 2021," said Stephen Hughes, an assistant chief with the New York Police Department who is helping to supervise the night, as quoted by the New York Times and added, "I just can't wait not to see 2020 anymore."
"The coronavirus cast its long shadow over Times Square this holiday week, stifling the traditional anticipation. Without the usual crush of tourists, the tip-dependent Batmans and Minnie Mouses were left to commiserate in world-colliding clusters," NYT reported.
As per the latest update by Johns Hopkins University, the US continues to be the worst-affected country by the pandemic reporting over 19 million cases and over 340,000 deaths--the most in the world. (ANI)
Iconic Times Square Ball Drop to be virtual this year
ANI | Updated: Jan 01, 2021 05:43 IST
By Reena Bhardwaj