The Times Square ball drop in New York City is back — but people don’t seem to care

Nov 17, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

New York City will once again bring in the new year in a big way: The infamous Times Square ball drop.

But before you don your coat, gloves and stand in the freezing cold with tens of thousands of other humans, know that the annual ball drop will look a little different this year. Amid the ongoing pandemic, New York City will require people attending the New Years’ Eve festivities in Times Square to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Revelers 5 years old or over must present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination approved by the FDA or World Health Organization to enter. People unable to be vaccinated because of a disability must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the event, and they’ll also be required to wear a mask.

“We want to welcome all those hundreds of thousands of folks, but everyone needs to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Join the crowd, join the joy, join a historic moment as New York City provides further evidence to the world that we are 100% back.”

The ball drop will conclude a year that saw New York City fully reopen back to residents and tourists. De Blasio said back in April it would be “the summer of New York City,” and there would be no restrictions on restaurants, shops, businesses or theaters. Broadway officially returned at full capacity in September. Restaurants and bars also reopened, first with capacity limits and then with fewer restrictions. And subway ridership has been steadily hitting the over 3 million passenger mark (but is still down compared to pre-pandemic days).

However, the city has also faced its share of setbacks, largely due to the highly-transmissible delta variant.

For instance, New York City became the first U.S. city to mandate proof of vaccination for indoor dining as a result of the variant. It also faced backlash from city employees for its vaccination requirement. (According to de Blasio, the New York City Police Department will take the lead on verifying COVID-19 vaccination credentials, even as the force pushed back on a vaccination mandate for city workers.)

But even with the annual celebration coming back in person, people largely don’t seem to care. When I asked several of my TPG colleagues whether they’d attend — even those outside of the New York metro area — the vast majority responded with aversion.

“I think even the people who say they enjoy it don’t actually enjoy it,” TPG senior reporter David Slotnick responded.

Other staffers say there are logistical issues to contend with.

“The lack of access to a bathroom really makes it a non-starter for me, but I do like cheesy stuff like that,” said TPG reporter Caroline Tanner.

If watching the ball drop from the center of Times Square is absolutely not on your bucket list, there are other ways to watch the festivities up close (and out of the elements). Here are several hotel options with prime views — some of which can offer a great value to travelers who can use points to avoid the inflated holiday rates.

Featured photo by boneman/Twenty20

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.