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Times Square will hold a digital New Year's Eve celebration to ring in 2021

Organizers of the popular Times Square New Year's Eve celebration in New York City will go digital when revelers welcome 2021. It's the first time in 114 years that a massive crowd will not be packed in the iconic destination to ring in the new year.. 

In an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Times Square Alliance announced Wednesday that the festivities will now be a "virtually enhanced celebration" that will come to partygoers wherever they are. 

The celebration will also feature socially-distanced live elements and a limited group of in-person honorees who will reflect the "themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020," the Times Square Alliance said in a press release. 

"One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on December 31st," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. "But 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."

Essential workers, first responders, doctors and scientists as well as entertainers and performing artists will be among the honored guests.

"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," he said. "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."

The Times Square Alliance produces the celebration with Countdown Entertainment. 

"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," said Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded 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," he said. 

The modifications to the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration comes as another beloved event, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade will be television-only for the first time in 94 years. Marchers will not be making their way down the traditional 2.5-mile parade route this year. 

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