NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New Year's Eve will look a lot different in Times Square this year.
Every year, thousands of people from all across the globe pack Times Square to see the ball drop and ring in the new year, but organizers of the event said this year's celebration will be "virtually enhanced" and "scaled back."
The goal is to bring the celebration to people everywhere "digitally no matter where you are." To help with that effort, organizers have created a special broadcast app that will allow everyone to experience Times Square.
Live elements of the show, which are still being determined, will feature "an extremely limited group of in-person honorees, socially distanced, who will reflect the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020."
“No one needs to be reminded of what the dominant news of 2020 has been so far: COVID-19 and a host of racial, economic and climate crises. Through a limited number of honored guests we will note where we’ve been but more importantly we will honor and celebrate the courageous and creative spirits who have helped and will help us travel through these challenging times into the New Year,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, which co-produces the event with Countdown Entertainment.
In addition to Hollywood stars and musical artists, the show will include essential workers, first responders, doctors and scientists.
Tompkins said there will be "significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings" to complement the live portion of the show.
"Because any opportunity to be live in Times Square will be pre-determined and extremely limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be the opportunity to participate virtually wherever you are," Thompkins said. "Because more than ever in these divided and fear-filled times, the world desperately needs to come together symbolically and virtually to celebrate the people and things we love and to look forward with a sense of renewal and new beginnings.”
Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment, noted that, "We will miss everyone this year but we will bring our celebration to you, whether you want to turn off and turn away from the bad news of 2020, or turn to the new year with a sense of hope, renewal and resolution, you’ll be able to join us virtually like never before as part of the Times Square 2021 celebration."
Mayor Bill de Blasio praised organizers for “finding a safe, creative and innovative way for all of us to continue to celebrate this century old-tradition.”
“A new year means a fresh start, and we’re excited to celebrate,” the mayor said in a statement.
The New Year's Eve celebration is the latest event to be altered amid the pandemic. The Thanksgiving Day Parade is being "reimagined" this year with a broadcast-only event and the Village Halloween Parade has also been canceled.