Times Square’s epic New Year’s Eve ball drop will happen without an in-person audience this year. The change marks the first time people won’t be celebrating in New York City's tourist hotspot since the tradition started in 1907.
Organizers announced the changes Wednesday, as the city attempts to minimize gatherings in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Much like this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, many of the familiar festivities, like musical performances, will still take place — just without live spectators. This year will feature an appropriate, but potentially-depressing performance of "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.
According to the announcement, the event will be broadcast online and on TV, in addition to several new digital components. Unlike many of the other events that have been forced online this year, the virtual New Year’s Eve actually seems like a great alternative for those who have wanted to take part in the celebration, but have never had the desire to be stuck in the freezing cold wearing a diaper.
Through the free “NYE” app or the VNYE.com website users can create a custom avatar that can attend concerts or even take in an art exhibit. Musicians like Alex Boyé and Chloe Gilligan also pre-recorded short sets that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. And the Times Square digital billboards will be turned into canvases that will display more than 60 works from 45 artists.
Not to mention, when New Year's Eve rolls around, you can choose your favorite view for watching the ball drop thanks to 10 live vantage points. And like everything else you've done this year, you can attend it alone, in your pajamas.
While an empty Times Square on New Year's Eve is another reminder of a difficult year, the organizers are using the event to honor the city's first responders, frontline, and essential workers as the well-deserved "Heroes of 2020."
“This year, it feels most appropriate to shine a spotlight on the individuals who are tirelessly leading our nation through hard times with unshakable strength, determination and poise, as well as their families, who deal with their own set of sacrifices," said Tim Tompkins the president of the Times Square Alliance in a statement.
The virtual Times Square experience will go live this Saturday, Dec. 19.