PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The countdown is on until we can put 2020 in the rearview mirror. Due to the pandemic, things are looking a little different for New Year’s Eve and for a good reason.
Even with new mitigation efforts the last few weeks, Allegheny County recorded another 800-plus new coronavirus cases on Thursday. It’s those rising numbers that have moved the New Year festivities virtual and leaders across the city hope you will stay home to celebrate.
“Well, we are being safe this year, staying at home with family, watching TV, hoping that next year we will be out celebrating again,” said Greg Miller, who normally spends the holiday downtown at First Night.
These are the plans that Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen is encouraging.
“If you do gather, do so outside, wear masks, keep your distance, wash your hands often and keep your gathering very, very small — like just your household,” Bogen said.
Bogen said holidays bring temptation and we have yet to see the full impact of a holiday surge, so she wants people to limit risky behavior.
“2020 has been hard, that’s an understatement. We have a lot to look forward to in 2021, including the opportunity to celebrate these and other holidays like we are accustomed to,” Bogen said.
This year we won’t be able to stand along the streets of downtown Pittsburgh to watch the performers go by, but we will be able to watch them from the comfort of our couch.
“This year we are still going to have the music and magic and dance but just all on TV and you can tune in from home,” said Sarah Aziz with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
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So you can celebrate the First Night festivities safely in the midst of a pandemic.
“Normally we shut down 14 blocks of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and have 40 venues open and engaged with things like music and magic and dance,” said Aziz.
However, the busy streets will be a thing of the past — at least this year — as the Future of Pittsburgh Ball rises into the sky, marking a new year.
“Light Up Night, I’m down here. Maybe on New Year’s, but everything is different this year. Can’t really have fun. Don’t really get to see anyone. Even the holidays don’t feel like the holidays,” said Swissvale resident Chase Hall.
Squirrel Hill resident Kevin Kieffer said, “For me, it’s not much different. I always stay in anyways and try to avoid the city. It does kind of suck not seeing the family or anything.”
The message this New Year’s Eve is to stay home.
“We definitely understand it. It’s something needed and hope to be positive and go forward to shine bright in the New Year,” said JoAnne Cantrell, who lives in Pittsburgh.
A reminder from the city — fireworks are canceled and Public Safety is encouraging everyone to celebrate responsibly.
“We are all a little disappointed, but we are trying to roll with the punches,” said Aziz. “We want to keep everyone safe and healthy so we can welcome 2021 in really well and hopefully we are welcoming 2022 back in-person, in the theaters, in the Cultural District and gathering together.”
That hope is what we have to hold onto as we get ready to turn the page and begin a new chapter.
You can catch the full First Night celebration on KDKA-TV with Heather and David starting at 11 p.m.