TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan – There was a fire burning in Times Square on Tuesday, but no firefighters were there to put it out. That’s because it was the 15th annual Good Riddance Day, a time to write down what you want to permanently leave behind from the last 12 months and literally burn it away.
Participants said they were more than ready to let go of the negative energy and bad experiences from the last year.
In past years, participants shredded what they wanted to eliminate for the upcoming year, but instead, this year it was lit on fire. For the first time during this Times Square tradition, they got an incinerator.
Jonathan Bennett, the co-host of the New Year’s Eve celebration, explained why.
“This is inspired by a Latin-American tradition where they would burn life-sized dolls to get rid of all the negativity of the previous year,” Bennett said.
One man even brought his financial records to burn and celebrate his financial freedom from debt.
Organizers encouraged folks to write down what they didn’t want to follow them into the new year — from ex-boyfriends and celebrities going to space to police brutality — and the pieces of paper were posted on a wall.
Adrian Perry-Ingram, of North Carolina, wanted to get rid of his mother’s cancer.
“Four of us caught COVID back in March,” Perry-Ingram said. “We had to recover from that, but my mom had a difficult time doing it because she has asthma, so she ended up going to the hospital and they did X-rays and come to find out she actually has lung cancer.”
Sara Dean, an ICU nurse from Nashville, wanted to get rid of iPads – the only form of contact she could provide to patients to see family because of COVID pandemic restrictions.
“These people are very sick,” Dean said. “We had no visitors and we were their only family whether it be 24 hours or seven days and it was awful.”
Many participants said it was a therapeutic way to say goodbye to all the hardships from the last 12 months and to start 2022 with a clean slate.