After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square returned with no masks, vaccines, or social distancing required. Thousands gathered to watch the ball drop and enjoy live performances by Chelsea Cutler, JVKE, Ava Max, Osmani Garcia, New Edition, Chesca, and Duran. Revellers braved the misty weather to ring in the new year and look forward to a return to normalcy.
New York City’s Times Square was packed with revellers on New Year’s Eve, as the annual celebration returned without any COVID-19 restrictions in place. For the first time in two years, there were no mask mandates, vaccine requirements, or social distancing measures in place at the popular tourist destination. The lift on limited capacity rules meant that the event was able to return to its usual scale, with thousands of people gathering to watch the ball drop and ring in the new year.
Throughout the night, attendees were treated to live performances by a number of popular artists, including Chelsea Cutler, JVKE, Ava Max, Osmani Garcia, New Edition, Chesca, and Duran. Just before midnight, Cutler performed a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which had thousands of people singing along as they welcomed in 2023.
Despite the gloomy and misty weather, many people were excited to be able to attend the event without any COVID-19 restrictions. Michelle Strunk, a 48-year-old from Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, said that she had come prepared for the long wait with snacks and water, and speculated that “75% of people” at the celebration were wearing diapers for “emergency purposes.” Jurate Samiene and her husband Rimas Samis, who had come to Times Square from Branford, Connecticut, said that they had abstained from eating or drinking all day in order to celebrate their third time at the event.
For some, the celebration marked a special occasion. Pearl Vaval, a 63-year-old Bronx resident, said that watching the ball drop had been on her “wish list” for years, and that she was excited to finally be able to cross it off. She said that she had “sacrificed” drinking water all day in order to be able to attend, but was looking forward to making new friends and starting the new year off on a positive note.