South Florida cities to hold scaled back events to celebrate new year

This year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will look a bit different in Broward and Miami-Dade counties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the events locals are used to attending to ring in the new year will be held virtually.
“Have people be healthy and safe and hopefully get back to some sense of normalcy,” Asia Parker said. “I think they’re trying to keep everybody safe, so I support their decision.”
The annual Anchor Drop in Fort Lauderdale will be livestreamed for families to enjoy from their homes.
The drop was recorded several weeks in advance and will be available to watch starting at 11 p.m. on several outlets. There will be a live fireworks show in downtown Fort Lauderdale that those who live nearby can see.
“We’ll have live music, and it’ll be a wonderful time for families to stay at home and enjoy the New Year’s [celebration] in the privacy and safety of their own environment,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.
The city is trying to find a way to make New Year’s Eve celebrations fun but safe.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said downtown is the perfect location because it discourages large crowds.
“We’re here because there is no area to congregate,” he said. “We want people to have a good time and see it from their home or their condo or their apartment.”
Bars and restaurants will remain open, and large crowds may gather on Las Olas Boulevard and in downtown, but some said they plan to celebrate the new year on their own.
“I probably won’t do much, just be home with the family,” Doug Askew said. “Obviously, this coronavirus is in the way. I hope it goes away, so we can get back to some type of normal.”
“I’m excited for 2021,” Linda Thach said. “Quiet New Year’s, don’t need anything crazy.”
“Looks like everyone’s doing the right thing, wearing their masks, being safe, and we’re doing the same,” said one woman in Fort Lauderdale.
“Usually a lot more crowded, it’s more fun but you can’t beat it with the COVID,” said one man.
Thursday night some people ventured out to bars and restaurants with their pets to celebrate the new year.
“It shouldn’t be like this,” one man said. “New Year’s Eve, everybody should be out having a good time.”
Residents can watch the Anchor Drop on YouTube, Facebook as well as a government-access channel.
Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade County, officials are asking those who plan to celebrate the new year to wear a mask, practice social distancing and return home ahead of the 1 a.m. curfew.
“Look, it may be New Year’s Eve, but we still have to realize that this virus is surging right now, and we need to act carefully and responsibly,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.
Despite a busy Miami Beach on New Year’s Eve, things have not returned to a pre-pandemic normal.
“We’ve been living through perhaps the worst year of our lives for so many,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. “One a.m. will allow people to toast to the new year safely.”
In an effort not to create a crowd, the City of Miami’s annual Big Orange ceremony will not be held, Thursday night.
Firepower Displays Unlimited owner Gary Avins said the holidays are usually the busiest time of the year for his business, but due to the pandemic, he has seen reduced interest.
He added they normally have over 20 fireworks shows in South Florida for New Year’s Eve, but in 2020, they will have seven.
“Our business is down probably around 80 or 90 percent,” Avins said. “A lot of our corporate shows and local city and events, just overall party planners and weddings and any kind of celebrations have all come to a stop. Getting into the new year, we hope everything is going to start moving in a positive direction.”
Some venues plan to hold New Year’s celebrations with COVID-19 guidelines in place.
The iconic Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach will host an exclusive outdoor event with Grammy-award winning singer and rapper Nelly. Organizers said they will be following all health and safety protocols.
“I’m excited to get out of 2020,” a tourist said.
“Super excited to have a social distanced, COVID-free new year,” another tourist said.
“What I’m hoping for is obviously for this virus to end,” said Amal Chow. “I hope everyone gets the vaccine, get everyone vaccinated, that’s a big deal.”
Miami Beach’s fireworks show was cancelled due to high winds.
Code enforcement officials were out Thursday night to make sure individuals and businesses are following guidelines.
In Key West, the Drag Queen Drop signaled good riddance to 2020 with a limited amount of spectators to watch the event.

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