2020 ends with ball drop in an empty Times Square as millions watch from home

Hello 2021, and goodbye 2020! The year of the COVID-19 pandemic ended with the famous ball drop in a deserted Times Square while millions watched from home, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dancing with his wife onstage, and partygoers packing into a Miami nightclub to ring in 2021. 

Three hours later, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the rest of the West Coast also celebrated the end to the year, with California currently in the grips of a huge spike in coronavirus cases. 

New York's Times Square is usually at the center of the world's New Year's Eve celebrations, with tens of thousands of people packing in to the commercial hub every December 31st to watch the ball drop at midnight. 

De Blasio was seen pushing the button to start the crystal ball's descent as his wife, Chirlane McCray stood by his side. The pair then danced into the new year onstage. 

The mayor later tweeted that 'as a city, as a community, we have been through so much this year'. 

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'We showed our resolve and proved New York City will come back stronger than ever,' he wrote in the caption of an image showing him and his wife dancing. 

This year, the time-honored tradition was modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907. 

However, modest throngs of people gathered just outside the police perimeter, which took on the feel of a tailgate as midnight neared. Many said they wanted to end a challenging year on their own terms. 

Small groups of revelers, some wearing glittery hats, filmed their distant view of Times Square on their phones and broke out in cheers at midnight. 

NEW YORK CITY: Times Square is usually at the center of the world's New Year's Eve celebrations, with tens of thousands of people packing in to the commercial hub every December 31st to watch the ball drop at midnight

NEW YORK CITY: Times Square is usually at the center of the world's New Year's Eve celebrations, with tens of thousands of people packing in to the commercial hub every December 31st to watch the ball drop at midnight

But, this year, the time-honored tradition was modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907

But, this year, the time-honored tradition was modified amid the ongoing pandemic, with members of the public prohibited from gathering in the area for the first time since the ball-drop began back in 1907

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially ended with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (pictured with his wife) dropping the ball in an eerily empty Times Square as millions of Americans watched the annual event from home

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially ended with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (pictured with his wife) dropping the ball in an eerily empty Times Square as millions of Americans watched the annual event from home

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De Blasio is seen pushing the button to allow the crystal ball to descend just before 12am

De Blasio is seen pushing the button to allow the crystal ball to descend just before 12am  

De Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray were then seen dancing on stage after the mayor set the ball drop in motion

De Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray were then seen dancing on stage after the mayor set the ball drop in motion

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses while standing near the Times Square area on Thursday

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses while standing near the Times Square area on Thursday 

There were kisses and toasts, but police quickly broke up the crowds gathered along Broadway after the ball fell.

One reveler, Daniel Camacho, 36, of Manhattan, described the experience as 'anticlimactic' given the small crowd. 

'I'm just glad it's over,' he said of 2020. 

Others who passed through the area in the hours before midnight said the celebration was a melancholy one.

'It makes me a little bit sad,' said Cole Zieser, who recently moved to New York City and was looking forward to 'what everyone dreams about in New York.'

Merchants in the area were also lamenting the lack of crowds.

'It's dead,' said Ali Jameel early Thursday, who owns a store a block from Times Square. 'We are dreaming for it to come back again like before.'

Earlier on Thursday, de Blasio told reporters 'It's going to be actually, arguably, the most special, the most poignant, the most moving New Year's Eve.'

'In 2021, we're going to show people what it looks like to recover, to come back,' the mayor added. 

Shortly after the ball dropped, TV host Andy Cohen slammed de Blasio for how he's handled issues in the city. 

'I just don't need to see that at the beginning of 2021,' Cohen said, referring to de Blasio and his wife dancing. 'Do something with this city!' Cohen said as CNN's Anderson Cooper laughed. 

'Honestly get it together,' Cohen yelled. 

Others also took to social media to slam de Blasio for his leadership over the Big Apple. 

'@NYCMayor way to ruin NYE in NYC. You should be ashamed of yourself,' one person wrote. 

Another shared: '2020 was just another year during which @NYCMayor destroyed NYC.' 

A man chugged a bottle of alcohol when the clock struck 12am Friday morning

A man chugged a bottle of alcohol when the clock struck 12am Friday morning 

Attendees watch a performance near Times Square during 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations on Thursday in New York City

Attendees watch a performance near Times Square during 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations on Thursday in New York City

Revelers lit fireworks during a modified celebration of New Year's Day near Times Square on Thursday

Revelers lit fireworks during a modified celebration of New Year's Day near Times Square on Thursday

A few dozen people did gather near Times Square Thursday night wearing colorful hats and 2021 glasses

A few dozen people did gather near Times Square Thursday night wearing colorful hats and 2021 glasses

Many appeared to be wearing masks as others took the opportunity to pose for photos

Many appeared to be wearing masks as others took the opportunity to pose for photos

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses ahead of the ball drop in New York City's Times Square

A man is seen wearing 2021 glasses ahead of the ball drop in New York City's Times Square 

People gather in Midtown Manhattan to pose for photos ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations

People gather in Midtown Manhattan to pose for photos ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations 

Several people were seen wearing decorative 2021 hats near the Times Square area Thursday night

Several people were seen wearing decorative 2021 hats near the Times Square area Thursday night 

Children are seen with decorative accessories as they pose for a photo near Times Square on Thursday

Children are seen with decorative as they pose for a photo near Times Square on Thursday 

Some celebrity performers took to stages set up in the mostly empty square to sing to a small group of masked essential workers. 

In the final minutes before midnight, Jennifer Lopez sang the Aerosmith classic Dream On beneath a blast of confetti.

A brief burst of fireworks blasted and more confetti flew as the countdown hit midnight.

The only people allowed into the area were media and invited first responders who have been hailed as the 'Heroes of 2020.'

The audience also saw performances by and Megan Thee Stallion.

'I think I feel hopeful. It can't get much worse than the last year,' 31-year-old actress and nanny Jordan Mann, of Brooklyn, said. 

'I'm just really hoping that we have a lot more wisdom next year from the leaders in our country and that they'll actually be able to help us out,' she said.  

People wearing protective mask look for the Times Square ball near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event

People wearing protective mask look for the Times Square ball near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event

A couple kisses near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event on Thursday

A couple kisses near Times Square during the virtual New Year's Eve event on Thursday 

Groups of people were seen watching a performance near Times Square during the 2021 New Year's Eve celebrations

Groups of people were seen watching a performance near Times Square during the

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