New York City's Times Square rang in the year 2021 with a virtual ball-dropping celebration, as coronavirus cases climbed across the U.S.
Now the party's back on, thanks to COVID-19 vaccines. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that Times Square will be open for celebrations this New Year's Eve — but only to fully vaccinated revelers.
"We are proud to announce the Times Square wonderful celebration, the ball drop, everything, coming back full strength, the way we love it," he said. "Hundreds of thousands of people there to celebrate, we can finally get back together again. It's going to be amazing, it's going to be a joy for the city."
He certainly seemed joyful to deliver the news:
De Blasio stressed that the city is working with health officials to make the event a safe one. Attendees must show proof of vaccination and a valid photo ID.
Tom Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance, appeared virtually at the press briefing to expand on the mayor's comment. He noted that Times Square is already attracting more visitors, with its pedestrian count up more than 50% in the last several months.
More than 270,000 people visited Times Square last Saturday alone, Harris said, and Broadway has already welcomed back more than a million visitors. He said that success is largely due to people being vaccinated and feeling confident in venturing back out.
Of course, you don't have to be in Manhattan to celebrate the start of 2022. The New Year's Eve festivities will also be broadcast for TV and internet audiences, the alliance says, including a "virtual multi-media experience." Read more about the plan here.