New York Times Square Ball Drop Is Still Happening New Years Eve: How to Watch, What to Expect

by Suzanne Halliburton

The ball hanging high over Times Square in New York is ready for the countdown to 2021. Covid-19 didn’t take that one tradition away from us. Thank goodness.

But there will be changes to the Times Square party. After all, it’s still 2020. Nobody, save for workers and a few folks on a guest list, will be allowed to watch the ball drop in person.

The New York Times reports that the city still will close entire blocks around Times Square in preparation for the ball drop. But know this, the police said, no folks allowed, save for the production crews to make sure the ball drops and that those watching from home can see it.

“There are absolutely no spectators allowed in Times Square,” said NYPD Chief Terence A. Monahan, the top uniformed member, told reporters, Wednesday.

“Don’t even attempt to come down there and watch it,” Monahan said.

“Anyone that starts to gather, they’re going to be told to move along,” he said. “We are not going to allow people to stand on the street corner and stare up.”

There Will Be Singing In Times Square

But there still will be festivities in Times Square you can watch while you’re all cozy and safe at home. The (sparse) party in Times Square will feature many musical acts.

On the Times Square stage, Gloria Gaynor plans to sing “I Will Survive.” It was a song about surviving a breakup four decades ago, but it also is our coronavirus theme song. Jennifer Lopez will sing, as will Billy Porter and Cyndi Lauper, because girls and their guys still want to have fun. Even in 2020.

All the networks are planning some sort of special programming.

But Of Course He Is: Ryan Seacrest Will Host a Show From Times Square

Ryan Seacrest will be in New York to host the annual “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” special. It’s on ABC, starting at 8 p.m., Eastern.

Seacrest guaranteed the 2020 party will be unforgettable, although most of us would like to quickly dispense thinking about it, ASAP.

“Never have we all wanted to age so fast or get through a year and speed up time than 2020,” Seacrest told USA Today. “Just the notion that we have the possibility of something so much better in this new year, I think, will not soon be forgotten in my memories.” 

“There will be, clearly, a lot of respect in terms of the reflection of what has happened this year,” Seacrest said. “However, our priority is to bring a fun party into people’s living rooms. So many of us have been at home, will be at home more than ever on New Year’s Eve, and we want to create fun.”

President elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will make a special appearance on the show for their final interview of 2020.

Here Are Some Other Major Shows Before Ball Drops

Actors and comedians Ken Jeong and Joel McHale will make us laugh as they host “Fox’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2021.” Gloria Estefan will perform. So will country singer LeAnn Rimes, who won “The Masked Singer” earlier this month.

Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb will co-host NBC’s celebration from Times Square. It’s appropriately titled “New Year’s Eve: Escape from 2020.” Yes, please. Let’s erase it from our memory. Everybody’s favorite Kelly Clarkson and her fellow “The Voice” judge John Legend are set to appear. Also, Blake Shelton and fiancé Gwen Stefani, music’s new power couple, will perform.

CNN brings us real-life best friends Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. After midnight, the hosting duties go to Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon. In years past, the anchors and other news personalities have let their hair down. Interesting appearances to watch for — Tiger King’s Carole Baskin and singers Josh Groban and John Mayer. It’ll be more Times Square fun.

And, you can find entertainment on PBS, with Patti LaBelle and Audra McDonald.

If you’re a streaming cord-cutter, YouTube will have a show called “Hello 2021: Americas.” Matthew McConaughey, RuPaul, Dua Lipa and Demi Lovato are expected along with country star Kane Brown.

But with all these televised celebrations, the Times Square ball will be the center of attention.

There’s Been a Ball Drop Almost Every Year Since 1907

There’s been some sort of celebration in the center of New York since 1904. The Times Square ball drop started three years later. It then centered around the New York Times new headquarters. The only years with no ball drop were in 1942 and 1943. Those were ordered dim outs because the United States was on possible alert for air attacks.

A few guests still will be allowed to watch in person. The New York Times says the VIP list includes a pediatrician, a pizza delivery person and a ferry driver from Staten Island. The ball, itself, is gussied up for the drop. Workers added “Gift of Happiness” Waterford crystal triangles on it this week.

So ice the champagne. Grab a silly 2021 hat and a noisemaker. We’re not going to let 2020 reschedule our 2021 party.