ORLANDO, Fla. — Aside from the occasional mask, there were few signs of a continuing pandemic on Orlando’s streets as revelers emerged for New Year’s Eve parties.
Bar after bar wiped down their tables, poured ice and arranged bottles in anticipation of the thousands of locals and tourists that would hit the city’s downtown. Many of the earliest partiers were Kentucky football fans in town for the Citrus Bowl.
Wall Street Plaza staff predicted that the festivities would ramp up around 10 p.m. and last late into the night.
Over in Thornton Park, a block party kicked off at 8 p.m., bringing locals from the area out to toast 2021 away for good. It was the first time the city permitted such a large event, in hopes it drew people outside to avoid COVID-19 spread.
“I see there’s a lot of vendors out here. Line’s starting to pack up a little bit … should be a very exciting night,” one attendee said.
One event that was dropped from the activity plan: Orlando’s annual ball drop, which had to be canceled because of construction. Organizers said it would return to ring in 2023.