NATIONAL NEWS

Limited revelers return to Times Square to usher in 2022

Dec 31, 2021, 3:56 PM
Revelers gather ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square thwarting off fears of the Omi...
Revelers gather ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square thwarting off fears of the Omicron CoronaVirus variant on December 31, 2021 in New York City. Despite record numbers of COVID-19 cases across the city and nationwide, New York City is moving forward with New Years Eve celebrations. On average, about one million revelers are drawn to the Times Square to watch performances and celebrate. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City readied to embrace the new year — and bid good riddance to another pandemic-marred 12 months — as it prepared to revive its annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.

It did so as an uneasy nation tried to muster optimism that the worst days of the pandemic are now behind it — even as public health officials cautioned Friday against unbridled celebrations amid surging COVID infections from the omicron variant.

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 about 15,000 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.

“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.”

The annual ball drop takes place Friday, as the clock ticks into midnight and ushers in the new year, an occasion usually commemorated with Champagne, clinking pints, joyous embraces and hopes for better times ahead.

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.

Last year’s ball drop was closed to the public because of the outbreak.

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.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will relinquish oversight of the nation’s most populous city at the stroke of midnight, said the festivities at Times Square would “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. Organizers had initially hoped that more than 50,000 revelers would be able to join in, but plans were dramatically scaled back because of 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.

New York City’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, is scheduled to take his oath in Times Square soon after the ball drop. He expressed hope Thursday that 2022 would be “a new beginning of our resiliency.”

It was a sentiment shared by ordinary people.

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.”

___

This story has been corrected to show that Brügger’s first name is Paulo, not Paolo.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his upcoming trip to China in response to the fl...
Jennifer Hansler, Kevin Liptak, Jeremy Herb, Kylie Atwood, Jim Sciutto and Oren Liebermann

Blinken postpones trip to Beijing after Chinese spy balloon spotted over US

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his trip to China in response to a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
1 day ago
An Iowa Alzheimer's care facility is facing a $10,000 fine after pronouncing a woman dead who was l...
Hannah Sarisohn

Residential care facility faces fine after woman pronounced dead found gasping for air in body bag

An Iowa Alzheimer's care facility is facing a $10,000 fine after pronouncing a woman dead who was later found alive when a funeral director unzipped her body bag, according to documents from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.
1 day ago
Three bodies found on Feb. 2 in the Detroit area are believed to be those of three rappers who have...
Joe Sutton and Emma Tucker

Bodies found in apartment identified as 3 Michigan rappers missing for almost 2 weeks, police say

Three bodies found in the Detroit area this week were identified by authorities Friday as those of three rappers who were missing for almost two weeks, according to Michigan State Police.
1 day ago
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Vis...
Associated Press

Authorities: 2 arrested in California shooting that killed 6

A California sheriff says two gang members suspected in the massacre of six people last month in central California have been arrested, one after a gunbattle.
1 day ago
Davion Irvin was arrested late Thursday night and charged with six counts of animal cruelty-non-liv...
Chris Boyette and Vivian Kuo

Suspect arrested in case of tamarin monkeys missing from Dallas Zoo, police say

A 24-year-old man has been arrested in Dallas and charged in connection with the suspected theft of a pair of emperor tamarin monkeys that were recovered unharmed this week in an abandoned home a day after they vanished from the Dallas Zoo, police said.
1 day ago
A suspected Chinese high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Montana, on February 1. (Larry Maye...
Oren Liebermann, Haley Britzky, Michael Conte and Nectar Gan, CNN

Pentagon tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US

The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental United States, defense officials said on Thursday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Limited revelers return to Times Square to usher in 2022