New Year’s celebrations in Florida adjust to omicron

"Sushi," portrayed by Gary Marion, is lowered to the ground in a giant facsimile of a woman's...
"Sushi," portrayed by Gary Marion, is lowered to the ground in a giant facsimile of a woman's red high heel on Duval Street, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, on New Years Eve., at the Bourbon Street Pub in Key West, Fla. Some Florida New Year's Eve celebrations are proceeding as planned, while others have been adjusted to fit the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment. Key West's maroon-heeled shoe will descend from a Duval Street bar. (Rob O'Neal/The Key West Citizen via AP)(Associated Press)
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 3:13 PM EST
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MIAMI (AP) — 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 WPLG 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.

Other celebrations are planned in Miami, including a concert in Bayfront Park.

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 quickly 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.

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