New Year in NJ: Safe ways (in person and at home) to celebrate
With Gov. Phil Murphy not extending indoor dining and alcohol service past 10 p.m., you won't be able to ring in the New Year inside your favorite restaurant or bar. But with some safety and a little bit of creativity, there are ways to kiss 2020 goodbye and welcome in 2021.
And several traditional celebrations are continuing — some in person, some virtually. See below for a list of some notable parties.
Donna Albano, professor of hospitality, tourism and management Studies at Stockton University, said video calls among family and friends will definitely be popular this New Year's Eve. She said many families plan to have virtual scavenger hunts, play games or make gingerbread houses together through zoom.
While restaurants, bars and country clubs will be open until 10 p.m., she said, many will modify how they're looking at New Year's Eve. Albano said some of her Atlantic City casino colleagues will have socially distanced parties with early countdowns that wrap by 10 p.m.
(Casino floors, however, can stay open past that curfew time).
Other restaurants in the Atlantic City area that have outdoor areas plan to stay open New Year's Eve up until midnight. There will be bands and celebrations as usual, with safety precautions in place. At midnight, there will be the usual toasts and well wishes.
Albano said she has spoken to many people who plan on taking the money they would have spent on going out, and instead plan to treat themselves to some expensive champagne and upscale, fancy foods, celebrating on the couch.
Albano said there is one common thread among everyone: "We all definitely want to say goodbye to 2020."
New Year's celebrations planned in New Jersey:
Seaside Heights is continuing its First Night Ocean County tradition online, with what it calls a "virtual substitute for our popular annual family New Years Eve day event. This year it will be a FREE event with activities to for families to do online in the safety of their homes. AND, there will be at least 100 winners in the FREE event. Watch here for details.”
First Night Morris County 2021 is virtual as well, with what organizers say will be "over 40 performances with streaming and on-demand services." Tickets include access to the event as well as this month's (already completed) Friday Night Film Nights, and on-demand access to films and performances Jan 1 through 3. Online-only passes start at $15.
Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson is still is offering its seasonal festivities for those who’d like to cap off their New Year’s at a reasonable hour. "Holiday in the Park” on New Year’s Eve will offer this year’s holiday lights, with more than a million twinkling bulb. There will Smores-toasting at the fire pits, and rides are open to guests. All guests must have reservations and must wear masks.
Bowlero, with seven New Jersey Locations, AMF Strathmore Lanes in Aberdeen and
Bowlmor Lane in Green Brook are inviting visitors to "start off 2021 with a strike,” with special packages for New Year’s Eve day, New Year’s Eve night and New Year’s Day. The encourage visitors to book online for contactless payment and faster check-in. There are a maximum of six people allowed per lane, and no ball-sharing. Laser tag arenas are operating at limited capacity.
iPlay America in Freehold is still offering indoor options, with mask requirements and temperature checks, include an iRide Plus Unlimited Ride Band, and a four-hour umlimited video card. Topgolf Swing Suite play offers hourly bay rentals or private VIP options, for a maximum of eight guests. There's a full-service restaurant and pop-up Christmas bar. The outdoor patio will be open past 10 p.m., as the Game Time Bar & Grill is offering NYE Igloo rentals, for two-hour reservations of four to 10 guests.