As COVID numbers remain high across Rhode Island, Governor Ramaindo continues to discourage large get-togethers this holiday season. With New Year’s Eve in just a few days, people are coming up with creative ways to bring in the new year. 

Parties, if you’re following the guidelines, are obviously out of the question. And even if people wanted to mark the occasion with members of their household out on the town, the current Rhode Island restrictions mandate that restaurants must close at 10 PM on New Year’s Eve.  Speaking with several locals about how they’ll celebrate, one thing is clear: ringing in 2021 will be considerably different than in years past. 

Just because the people aren’t gathering in-person, however, doesn’t mean the festivities are called off altogether. Locals have been finding creative ways to celebrate and make sure this year’s holiday is still special, if, admittedly, a bit dimmer than years past. 

Liz Lirakis of Middletown says she plans to celebrate New Year’s by playing games virtually with friends on Jackbox, a multiplayer online gaming service with games that closely resemble Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit. Several other people I talked to were also planning Zoom parties with their friends in an effort to make the holiday at least somewhat joyous. It only seems fitting that, in a year dominated by Zoom meetings, Zoom hangouts, and Zoom reunions, people would close it out with Zoom celebrations.

Some people, however, are just calling it a wash. When asked about how he intends to celebrate New Year’s Eve, Carter Brague of Newport is pretty blunt: “Absolutely nothing,” he says. While he and his girlfriend normally go to friends’ houses to celebrate, this year will consist of “playing board games at home, drinking some wine and hanging out with our dog,” he says with a laugh.

Some people I talked to with small children have decided that they may skip celebrating New Year’s altogether. When asked how she plans to spend the holiday, Clare Rok of Portsmouth says, “I have no plans. I’ll probably watch Fireman Sam with Jude,”– her three-year-old son— “drink a little wine and fall asleep by 9 PM.” 

Erin Walsh, of Portsmouth, says she usually goes up to Boston for First Night with her fiancee and their five-year-old-daughter.  This year, however, the event has been moved to broadcast-only for the first time since 1975.  

Normally, Walsh also hosts a “Noon Years Eve” celebration for her daughter and her friends, where the kids count down to 12 PM instead of 12 AM. However, that won’t be happening this year either, as the family has been under pretty strict lockdown. Instead, New Year’s Eve will be spent at home by themselves, soaking in their hot tub and “maybe” splurging on some supermarket sushi.

Regardless of how people are, or are not, celebrating, one thing is clear– everyone is eager to turn over a new leaf and move on to 2021. “2020 has been tough on everyone,” Walsh says. “I have a lot of hope that 2021 will bring everyone a little peace, and the vaccine will help people return to normalcy.”

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Sean Galvin

Sean Galvin is an Aquidneck Island-native. He was raised in Portsmouth and lived between Newport and Providence for many years after graduating college. After a few years away in California, he recently returned to Newport.