Thousands of people flocked to Times Square to watch the first unrestricted New Year’s Eve party ballroom since 2020, despite overcast, foggy weather.
The annual big celebration was the first event in two years with zero COVID-19-related restrictions. No masks, no vaccines, no social distancing.
With the limited capacity rule lifted, popular tourist destinations have filled up again with people eager to get things back to normal.
Most people gathered in the Midtown plaza early Saturday morning to secure the best spots.
Michelle Strunk, 48, of Siccigny, Pennsylvania, told The Post she prepared for hours of waiting after she first saw the ball drop when she was 19.
She, her husband, and her two sons filled their pockets with granola bars and water, but the boys refused to follow her instructions and wear diapers.
“I guarantee 75% of people have one,” she speculated. “Listen, I gave birth to her two children… It’s only for emergency purposes. I don’t plan on using it, but it’s just for emergencies.”
Jurate Samiene, 59, and her husband, Rimas Samis, 62, of Branford, Connecticut, stepped in at 7 a.m. to eat and drink all day and celebrate for the third time.
“We came here with all our hearts and decided to come to Times Square. It doesn’t matter if it rains or not. We decided that rain is better than cold,” Samiene said. told the post.
But for others, the wait hasn’t been so easy.
Pearl Vabal, a 63-year-old Bronx resident and MTA bus operator, secured his spot at 7 a.m. to see the ball drop for the first time since moving to the Bronx 39 years ago.
“It’s on my wish list and never again,” Vaval told The Post. “I’m too old. I can’t stay here too long.”
Vaval said she “sacrificed” drinking water all day from her to-do list to achieve this feat, but she’s looking forward to starting the new year by making new friends.
“I’m enjoying life now at my age…every day is like a gift,” she told The Post.
Samiene said her New Year’s resolution is “to do better in everything and of course world peace”.
New Year’s Eve revelers were treated to numerous live performances throughout the night featuring a line-up of Chelsea Cutler, JVKE, Ava Max, Osmani Garcia, New Edition, Chesca and Duran Duran.
Just before the midnight strike, Cutler performed a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as thousands sang along to welcome 2023.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams was given the honor of pushing the button to initiate the 60-second descent of the Waterford Crystal New Year’s Ball. Completed with neon lights and fireworks, the crowd roared the final countdown.
A few sounds of the classic New Year’s ballad “Old Land Sign” while attendees share a smooth before blowing up Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” amid falling confetti was played on the loudspeaker.