ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With COVID restrictions still in place, the city and local businesses are adjusting their New Year’s Eve plans this year. Since restaurants can only operate outside at 25 percent occupancy and large gatherings we usually see aren’t allowed, people can expect a much different New Year’s Eve experience this year.
New Year’s Eve in Albuquerque usually sees events city-wide featuring things like Explora’s Balloon Drop. Thousands of people fill venues across the city, but this year will be very different. “It is important because people still want to celebrate,” said Diana Delgado with the city’s Cultural Services Department.
Delgado said Explora, the Biopark, and more are coming together for the city’s virtual New Year’s Eve Before Dark, a two-hour-long program people can watch online during the day with a variety of crafts and activities for the whole family. “We are hoping since we can’t go to these favorite locations that we love that a lot of people will be able to tune into this event from the safety of their own homes,” Delgado said.
Bars and restaurants that usually see big crowds are changing their plans too. “We still have to close at 9 p.m.,” Copper Lounge General Manager Giovanni Martinez said. “I may have my bartender do a fake countdown and pretend it is midnight at 9 p.m.”
Martinez said Copper Lounge is usually at their capacity of 100 for all of New Year’s Eve, making thousands of dollars just that night. Now, they will be able to seat just 14 people at a time at their sister bar’s patio. “People have been calling for New Year’s Eve all week and thinking we will have a countdown,” Martinez said. “No, we can’t do a countdown. When I tell them that, they say ‘even on New Year’s?’ Yes, even on New Year’s.”
Delgado said even though this year is different, it is still worth a send-off. “We all still learned a lot, and we were able to appreciate things in a different way,” Delgado said. “Maybe it was things that we looked over in year’s past, and that is something worth celebrating.”
Bars and restaurants are encouraging people to call ahead to make reservations and check hours. The city’s event will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
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