A different kind of New Year across Tampa Bay

After everything we have been through in 2020, it makes sense that people want to celebrate the year's end. However, with COVID-19 looming over the festivities, this New Year’s Eve was toned down across the Bay Area.

Public fireworks shows were scrapped, crowded parties were scaled back, and many had mixed emotions as we kissed 2020 goodbye.

"We usually go to a big celebration, or a nice diner, a big group, a big family, and this year it’s more just like us four," said Alex Penya visiting from Miami.

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In Tampa, the city’s second New Yarrgh’s Eve Booty Drop was nixed in the name of public health.

On the other side of the bay, St. Petersburg’s family-friendly First Night celebration went virtual, encouraging folks to welcome 2021 safely.

"I mean, we would love to go out and celebrate the New Year, but we just know it’s not realistic right now and we want to be safe for our families and our friends," Megan Claire said.

Many took a similar approach while the novel coronavirus continues to spread through the community, and a new, likely more transmissible variant from the United Kingdom was detected in Florida.

"We’re trying to really make sure we're adhering to the guidelines, and just really making sure that we’re not putting ourselves at risk and focusing on what’s important," said Jannese Torres.

For those craving a sense of normalcy to ring in the New Year, there were still some options.

Busch Gardens opened for a socially distant evening in the park, requiring reservations to watch one of two fireworks displays. 

Armature Works hosted a limited capacity riverfront concert, complete with fireworks. 

At the other end of the Hillsborough River, American Social welcomed 2021 with a ticketed party and pyrotechnic show at midnight, as 2020 finally came to a close.

"I do plan on coming down to river walk for the fireworks and to bring in 2021, I don’t know if I’m gonna be saying happy New Year’s or Jumanji so I can get out the game," Charlene Mckenzie said.

While city streets were filled with fewer people, people were clearly filled with hope for the New Year.

"I hope that the vaccine works effectively, you know, everyone stays healthy, and we can just living our lives again," shared Claire.

"I’m looking forward for the pandemic to end, for people to go back to normal, to not wear this anymore," Marga Torres said.