There are no plans for the neon Big Orange to rise up the side of the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami this year, and a festival with food trucks and performers in a northeast Florida beach town has been canceled. But Key West's maroon-heeled shoe will descend from a Duval Street bar.
Welcome to New Year's Eve 2021, where some Florida celebrations are proceeding as planned, while others have been adjusted to fit the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment.
In Miami, city officials said the annual countdown had been canceled and instead “a digitized laser Big Orange will be created with the traditional countdown clock." Steve Carpenter, the man behind the “Big Orange," told local media that he and his staff had tested positive for the coronavirus after Christmas.
Last year's Big Orange countdown also was canceled because of coronavirus.
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Other celebrations are planned in Miami, including a concert in Bayfront Park.
"This is going to be probably the safest place to be in all of the state of Florida because we're going to have more police officers along with a small army of security guards, paramedics, firefighters," Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo said.
Police officials have been getting ready for the New Year's Eve concert for the past two months.
"Large venues and events have seen some tragedy so we are extremely confident that we are more than ready to handle this event and make sure that everybody that decides to come out to the event is safe," City of Miami Police Interim Chief Manny Morales
The concert area of the park will open at noon on Friday. The concert starts at 6 p.m. with a long list of artists. The party will go on until 2 a.m. Saturday.
Street closures will start Friday at 11 p.m. on Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 6th Street where traffic will be re-routed westbound.
There will be a temporary traffic shutdown on Northeast 5th Street and 2nd Avenue eastbound.
In St. Augustine Beach, a massive fireworks show was still planned, but an accompanying festival with food trucks and performers was canceled because of the recent COVID-19 surge, as the highly contagious omicron variant uickqly overtakes the delta variant in the U.S.
“We’re happy now ... that we decided to go in this direction given the new variant and given that the cases are going up right now,” city spokeswoman Melinda Conlon told News4Jax.
In Key West, the well-known drag performer known as Sushi will drop from above a Duval Street bar in a giant maroon, high-heeled shoe, continuing a two-decade tradition in the continental United States' southernmost town.
“We hope people stay outside, stay in groups of people they know are vaccinated and stay away from people who are unvaccinated,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston told flkeysnews.com.
Other Key West celebrations include a conch shell drop and a “pirate wench" drop.