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New York City's Times Square to ban crowds on New Year's Eve, take celebration and ball drop virtual

The NYE ball drop is latest of a number of annual New York City events altered by the pandemic

New Year's Celebration in New York City's Times Square
New Year's Celebration in New York City's Times Square
(Roy Rochlin / Getty Images)
Updated: September 24, 2020 - 1:11pm

For the first time in its 114-year history, the Times Square ball drop in New York City on New Year's Eve will happen without a crowd. 

The announcement that the annual event will go virtual follows recent news that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will also be held virtually, as the city continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic. 

"This year there will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences – still in development — will take place in Times Square," said president of the Times Square Alliance Tim Tompkins.

On the eve of the new year, Times Square will be blocked off by police barricades to ensure that no crowds attempt to gather. Any goings on happening in the famed location will be for "broadcast purposes only." 

“There will be a very finite number of people in Times Square to sort of make that happen for the broadcast purposes but there’s not going to be crowds of the general public," said Tompkins in a statement. The unique celebration will "reflect the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020." 

The Times Square ball drop has occurred every year since 1907. One Times Square, the building from which the ball descends, is owned by Jamestown, which has constructed a "virtual world of Times Square" that will go along with a free-to-download app that will allow users to experience the events taking place prior to this year's drop. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded the event's organizers for creating "a safe, creative and innovative way for all of us to continue to celebrate this century-old tradition."