Despite the Covid hitting New York again, the ‘city that never sleeps’ celebrated New Year’s Eve on the iconic Times Square in the heart of Manhattan, with its famous ball drop, countdown and drop confetti.
Last year, after terrible months of the coronavirus epidemic, the colorful and musical event was held in an almost empty Times Square square. This year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio kept his promise to rekindle the party and, at 11.59 p.m., started the countdown in front of a crowd limited to 15,000 people, instead of the usual 60,000, all masked and vaccinated.
At midnight sharp, the ball in Times Square went out to give way to a brief fireworks display under the cheers and kisses of the revelers. According to tradition, more than 1.3 tonnes of confetti carrying New Year’s wishes was then thrown from the roofs of the buildings bordering Times Square.
Convinced to get vaccinated
The Covid-19 has not discouraged American tourists, quite the contrary. Like a couple of African-Americans who came specially from Memphis (Tennessee): “Seeing the ball drop is our dream and we got vaccinated for that,” admits Chroni Spokes.
‘At first sight, we didn’t want to be vaccinated but when we read the rules of the health authorities, we did it just to come here’, recognizes the young woman.
Faced with the surge in contaminations with the Omicron variant in recent weeks and the fear of reliving the nightmare of 2020 when New York was the epicenter of the Covid-19 epidemic, the city and the State of New York are betting everything on the vaccination and testing.
On Friday, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul reported that over the past 24 hours more than 76,500 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, for nearly 340,000 tests carried out, a new record for this State of 20 million inhabitants. Nearly 8,000 patients are hospitalized there.
Transfer of power
In addition to the context of Covid-19, Times Square was also the scene, just after midnight, of the transfer of power between outgoing mayor Bill de Blasio and his successor Eric Adams.
This former African-American policeman was elected on November 2 for his program to fight against crime and socio-economic inequalities in this megalopolis, an incredible social and cultural mosaic. Holding up the portrait of his late mother, Mr. Adams took the oath on the Bible, alongside his family.