Hundreds gather for New Year's Eve in downtown despite COVID worries
BATON ROUGE - Hundreds turned out on the plaza behind City Hall in downtown for the return of the annual Red Stick Revelry New Year's Eve celebration, despite a last-minute warning from the mayor recommending that residents stay home because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
"Coming out here is like a breath of fresh air. It's just wonderful to get out and enjoy what the city has to offer," Sam Naquin said.
Naquin and his wife decided to come out after spending the year pent up trying to avoid the virus. With it being a crowded area and with the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, both took precautions.
"We are vaccinated and have our boosters and are keeping our distance," Debra Naquin said.
Press One For English and The Michael Foster Project brass band performed live along with a laser light show. Souvenirs, cotton candy and shaved ice were on sale, bringing back a festive atmosphere.
Businesses at Galvez Plaza were happy about the return of the live celebration, which was
held virtually last year.
"I think it's wonderful," said Laurie Davis, the manager of the nearby Subway sandwich shop.
Davis said the store geared up for extra business because of the celebration.
"We're staying open later. We have extra people on hand sanitizing and cleaning and keeping things tidy around here... Making fresh bread, fresh cookies," Davis said.
The mayor's office advised those who attended the New Year's Event to practice social distancing and wear masks, saying that it would be safer to bring in the new year at home with the virus on the rise throughout the state.
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