Saturday, October 15, 2022

The holidays are coming! Remember those? Store windows calling out to busy shoppers, planning family gatherings for the most-traveled days of the year, watching the ball drop in Times Square, waking up on New Year’s Day to watch the Rose Parade while getting all the munchies ready for the afternoon football game. Sounds like an old movie, doesn’t it?

Then came 2020. Do you even remember how different that first pandemic fall was? Schools closed, colleges and conferences went virtual. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed. The Hollywood Bowl season was cancelled. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was televised, with no spectators. On New Year’s Eve, the ball dropped in an empty Times Square. The Rose Parade was cancelled and the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl Game was played in Arlington, Texas.

2021 was the year of opening cautiously. No one wanted to cancel everything two years in a row. Vaccinations became available early in the year. For a while we thought they would solve everything. Yay! Back to normal! Then came the Delta variant, first identified in India in late 2020. On November 22, 2021, with Delta present in 179 countries, a new variant called Omicron was identified in South Africa and Botswana.

The 2020 Summer Olympics was held in Tokyo in the summer of 2021, using the original 2020 logo throughout, followed 6 months later by the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Both Olympics were characterized by strict precautions which kept participants isolated from the general population.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held live in 2021, complete with marching bands, giant floating balloons, and spectators lining the streets. A COVID-19 protocol was in place. With few exceptions, all staff and participants were vaccinated. Most participants wore face coverings, with exceptions for musicians, singers, and dancers.

Macy’s 2021 parade Believe banner with participants wearing face coverings.

New Year’s Eve was muted last year. The crowd in Times Square was reduced from the usual 58,000 to 15,000. At first vaccinations were required but not masks. Then, only one week before the big night, Mayor de Blasio announced that masks would be required for the attendees, due to the Omicron surge.

The Rose Parade took place on New Year’s Day, 2022, with COVID-19 protocols. All attendees over 12 had to show identification plus proof of full vaccination (no booster required) or a negative test within 72 hours of the event by antigen or PCR. Everyone over the age of 2 had to wear a mask at all times.

That afternoon, the Utah Utes played the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, California.

As you can see in the graph below, we have had major surges in December/January the last two winters, after October made us think things were improving.

What is planned for our holidays in 2022? The New Year’s festivities are wisely waiting to announce their COVID safety protocols. The Thanksgiving protocols are in place, but have some challenges.

  1. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be held on Thurs. Nov. 24, 2022. Spectators can watch along the traditional 2.5 mile parade route. All participants are required to be vaccinated, and as a result, some high school students from Clovis, California, who were excited to be chosen, will not be able to participate when the Clovis North Marching Band and Color Guard marches in the parade this year.
  2. Times Square New Year’s Eve: Yes, the party’s on. According to the website, the COVID policies have not been finalized. Just as well, because this virus has been known to be unpredictable.
  3. Rose Parade: “Turning the Corner” is the theme for this year’s parade. Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a shooting attack in 2011, is this year’s Grand Marshall. I assume that the COVID policies for the parade and the game are still to be determined, since all I could find on the web site was an “Oops, This Page Could Not Be Found!”
  4. The Rose Bowl Game, the oldest bowl game of them all, will be held in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, teams to be determined, and that’s about all we know. Except, you can buy an official mask on their web site.

But don’t take that as an official requirement.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Omicron surge is ‘unlike anything we’ve ever seen,’ expert says,” CNN, Fri. Dec. 31, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/30/health/us-coronavirus-thursday/index.html

“Omicron’s New Year’s cocktail: Sorrow, fear, hope for 2022,” AP News, Jan. 1, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-lifestyle-new-years-eve-new-zealand-23e5556fe23ffc73ae5477d827f30dd4

“New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is scaled back as Omicron spreads.” The New York Times, Dec. 23, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/23/nyregion/times-square-new-years-eve-party-covid.html

“How to Watch on TV or Stream the 2022 Tournament of Roses Parade,” Variety, Dec. 31, 2021. https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/rose-parade-2022-how-to-watch-1235144842/

“Some Clovis North band members to miss Macy’s Thanksgiving parade over COVID vaccine,” KRCRTV, Mon. Sept. 26, 2022. https://krcrtv.com/news/coronavirus/high-school-band-members-to-miss-macys-thanksgiving-parade-over-covid-19-vaccine-requirement-coronavirus-pandemic-holiday-season-clovis-north-marching-band-color-guard-new-york

“Former Rep. Gabby Giffords to serve as 2023 Rose Parade grand marshal,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 13, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-13/gabby-giffords-rose-parade-grand-marshal-2023-rose-bowl

Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Jan. 1 2023, https://tournamentofroses.com/about/parade-day-guide/

Other Sources

“SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SARS-CoV-2_Delta_variant

“SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant,” Wikipedia, SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant

“The 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” held Nov. 25, 2021. https://macysthanksgiving.fandom.com/wiki/The_95th_Annual_Macy%27s_Thanksgiving_Day_Paradehttps://www.timessquarenyc.org/times-square-new-years-eve/nye-faq

“Times Square New Year’s Eve guide,” Dec. 27, 2021, https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/times-square-new-years-eve

“New York City weighs fresh restrictions for Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration,” CNBC, Wed. Dec. 22, 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/22/nyc-weighs-new-restrictions-for-times-square-new-years-eve-celebration.html

Times Square, The Official Website, https://www.timessquarenyc.org/times-square-new-years-eve/nye-faq

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic is a classic watershed historical event. People will be referring to “before the pandemic” or “after the pandemic” for decades to come. Since March 11, 2020, this blog has examined the modern pandemic experience, drawing on my background as a medical technologist, a historian, and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis. My sources, both primary and secondary, are documented with links for easy reference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s