New York, Jan 1 (efe-epa).- Breaking almost a century-old tradition of raucous celebrations, New York welcomed New Year at midnight on Thursday with the Times Square practically deserted.
There were a handful of essential workers and the police officers deployed in the area, who were the only ones to witness the dropping of the iconic and enormous ball.
New Yorkers responded to the New York Police Department’s instructions to not turn up at Times Square for the New Year celebrations that usually continue into the early hours of Jan.1.
“Next year, we’ll all gather together and fill Times Square. But this year, don’t even attempt to come down there to watch it,” NYPD chief Terence Monahan had urged the people on Wednesday.
However, the city honored essential workers by allowing around 40 of them, accompanied by their partners, to witness the New Year ball drop in person from small enclosures especially installed for each of them in the popular plaza.
The lucky attendees included a pediatrician, an ambulance paramedic, and a pizza delivery executive who had caught the new coronavirus.
The pediatrician is from the Elmhurst hospital, which bore the pandemic brunt when the city became its American epicenter in the spring.
Celebrations on New Year eve began around 6 pm on Thursday, with two songs that referred to the harsh 2020: “I Will Survive,” performed by Gloria Gaynor, and John Lennon’s Imagine, sung by Andra Day, a midnight tradition at the Times Square festivities for many years now.
New York singer Pitbull also came on the stage to belt out hits like “Don’t Stop the Party,” “I Believe That We Will Win” and “Give Me Everything,” while Anitta sang “Downtown,” “Me Gusta” and “Vai Malandra.”
Another tradition was continued with Frank Sinatra’s classic “New York New York” being played seconds into 2021, accompanied by fireworks and a confetti shower.
The massive New Year celebration at Times Square – normally attended by hundreds of thousands of people – is famous across the world, and a large number of tourists come to New York from different countries especially to attend the event.
However, this year the city authorities decided to limit the attendance to hundreds of inflatable figurines installed across the square to give it a festive look.
The celebrations at the square go back 116 years, while the descent of the iconic crystal ball – dubbed the “gift of happiness” this year – has also been carried out since 1907.
It was the owners of the newspaper New York Times who first began the tradition by celebrating the arrival of the New Year on Dec. 31, 1904, on the roof of their building – situated in Times Square – and started using the lit-up crystal ball to mark the change of year in 1907.
More than a century later, with omissions only in 1942 and 1943 due to World War II, the ball continues to drop.This year the fascinating sphere was made of 2,668 crystal triangles, lit up by 32,256 red, blue, green, and white bulbs that formed a palette of 16 million colors, and weighed 5,386 kg (11,874 pounds). EFE-EPA