Many people have eagerly waited for an in-person Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, even if they had to watch it online. Regrettably, it was not one for the books.
There are typically 60,000 revelers present in Times Square, but because of the Omnicron variant, only 15,000, all required to be masked and vaccinated, were allowed to participate this year. The sparsity was noticeable, unfortunately.
Too, the events were few and far between, especially for those who had no access to ABC, CNN or other broadcast networks. The official Times Square Livestreams only showed the few features not associated with those networks.
It seemed that many of the large corporate sponsors used the event as a platform to promote themselves, opposed to simply celebrating a new year. This event was a little too commercialized for my taste, but I admit that did not ruin the night.
Jonathan Bennet, the Times Square New Year's Eve 2022 host, started the night with highlights of Good Riddance Day. I did not find this overly enjoyable, but it did encapsulate this widespread mood: we all want 2022 to be a lot better than 2021.
Soon after that, the Sino-American Friendship Association (SAFA) presented three Chinese cultural performances from Henan, China. SAFA showcased Taiji - commonly known in America as Tai Chi - Shaolin Kungfu and a beautiful fan dance.
These presentations were my favorite part of the night by far. Having participated in Tai Chi myself, I loved watching masters of the martial art conduct it with such passion.
The major disappointment of the night was the lack of entertainers in Times Square overall; sadly, many had to cancel due to positive COVID-19 tests. Luckily for viewers, KT Tunstall, Journey, Ja Rule and Ashanti nearly bridged the gap between the hourly countdowns.
Notably, KT Tunstall sang "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," "Suddenly I See" and renditions of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" and John Lennon's "Imagine." The lattermost was undoubtedly the best and concluded right before the highly anticipated ball drop.
Ja Rule and Ashanti iconically dueted "Mesmerise" and "Always On Time." This appearance was unforgettable, not to mention the duo's incredible outfits.
As for ABC's “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” concerts, the only band to perform live in Times Square was Journey. Journey sang their top hits "Anyway You Want It" and "Don't Stop Believing."
Although seriously overplayed, I cannot deny the timelessness and nostalgia that come with those two classic songs.
The famous ball drop and final countdown are still the most anticipated events on New Year's Eve. When the clock struck midnight, the luminous 2022 sign shone brightly from atop the One Times Square, and 3,000 pounds of wish-filled confetti showered down.
It might not have been my favorite part of the night, but it was gratifying to witness the start of a new year. Here is to hoping that we can wish a terrific 2022 into existence.