Times Square ball will drop without spectators for the first time since 1907
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For the first time since its inception in 1907, the city’s famed New Year’s ball will drop — and mark the start of 2021 — in an empty Times Square.
Instead, the in-person event — which typically draws more than one million revelers to the Crossroads of the World to see live performances and watch the glittering sphere descend its pole from atop One Times Square — will be held virtually over rising COVID-19 infection-rate concerns.
Jamestown, the real-estate investment and management company that owns One Times Square, has spent the last six months planning a robust, and very 2020, alternative to the typical festivities — one that blends virtual and augmented experiences with live camera feeds. Most of all, it’s totally free to access.
The digital party kicks off this Saturday, and those who wish to take part don’t have to worry about planning the right outfit — or bundling up and standing in Times Square for hours to secure their spot. All they need to do is download the free “NYE” app, or sign in to VNYE.com, to see what’s in store. Here’s a look at what they’ll get.
See New Year’s from Times Square, around the world — and above
On Dec. 31, both the app and site will air several live feeds of the ball drop in addition to typical broadcast events on television networks with roughly 10 vantage points positioned around Times Square, allowing users to customize their view.
Throughout the day, with a rolling live feed from EarthCam, users can watch New Year’s Eve celebrations taking part in other world cities, including Sydney, which will ring in the new year 16 hours before New York does.
But this New Year’s will also be out of this world — literally. Visitors will even get a New Year’s shout-out from the crew aboard the International Space Station, as well as a live view of Earth from space as it begins another trip around the sun. That’s something to launch 2021 off to a better start.
A virtual tour of Times Square
Users can create a customized avatar to represent their virtual selves on the app and website to be used during the coming weeks to play games, check out an art exhibit and even catch a concert in a digital Times Square.
In this virtual component, Times Square’s billboards will be replaced with digital artworks, whose flair will flow into a virtual art exhibit called “HI-RESOLUTION,” which users can find at street level. The show will display more than 60 pieces of digital works from some 45 artists, including Shyama Golden and Jeanette Getrost.
Avatars can also “ride” the elevator up the One Times Square building. There, across three floors, they can access three immersive games — including a flying game in which avatars soar down a track hitting as many balls as possible to collect “confetti points,” which can then be used to buy merch in the virtual square. For more, they can continue on to the building’s observation deck for virtual-reality views of the city.
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