An unseasonably mild December day brought crowds to New York City holiday hot spots Monday.
“You don’t often get a day like this in December. It’s beautiful. New York City is coming back. A lot of people are out and about. Bryant Park, seeing it packed like this is just beautiful,” New Yorker Billy Dayan said.
After a year off, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park planned to light its 43-foot tree with approximately 12,000 lights Monday night.
And with the omicron variant beginning to circulate in New York, attendees were asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
“We did have a much smaller Winter Village last year,” Irene Vagianos, Bryant Park’s vice president of events, said. “It was about 30 percent of what we normally have. This year we’re back and we have a tree, and we have a tree lighting ceremony. So, this is really big for us and it’s meaningful for a lot of people.”
Kristen Williamson, visiting from Canada, walked through the market Monday afternoon.
“We are not as open in Canada so it’s definitely shocking to come here and see few people wearing masks,” she said.
Countries across the world have been handling the new COVID variant in different ways. Williamson said she will be participating in a small family holiday gathering this year.
“Immediate family, we feel OK getting together but not sort of outside of that,” Williamson said.
And as people enjoy New York’s holiday offerings and prepare to celebrate with friends and family, what happens if the pandemic has other plans for us? Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere said it’s ok to be disappointed.
“Don’t internalize that. Don’t isolate yourself. Talk about what that is. Because we find out that we are not alone in those feelings,” he said.