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Charlotte New Year's Eve celebration features music and fireworks — and masks

Charlotte’s New Year’s Eve celebration is returning to uptown this year with music, food and fireworks. The event begins at 8 p.m. on South Tryon Street. Adam Rhew with Charlotte Center City Partners says masking and social distancing are important at the celebration.

“We have the benefit of being able to be on a section of South Tryon Street that we’re closing to traffic and so there will be ample room for people to spread out,” he said. “So, what we’re telling folks is that, if you come, we really strongly encourage that you wear a mask even though this is outdoors. Especially if you’re not able to keep social distance, we just think it’s really prudent for people to be able to take those extra precautions.”

COVID-19 infections have been rising again in Charlotte and across the U.S., fueled in large part by the highly contagious omicron variant. More than 9,300 new cases were reported on Wednesday by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Testing sites in the Charlotte area have been inundated since the Christmas holiday weekend.

The band Mo Money takes the event stage at 10 p.m., and a countdown to 2022 will be led by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. Rhew says Charlotte’s New Year’s Eve celebration is also a way to help uptown businesses.

“It’s been a hard couple of years for the businesses that are in center city — tThe restaurants, the bars, the places that really depend on people coming in and spending time and spending money in uptown," Rhew said. "Part of what’s different is that we’re just excited to just bring people back together, particularly to be able to support the hospitality community, which has had a really tough couple of years.”

Ahead of the event on Friday, Levine Avenue of the Arts will close at 9 a.m. and South Tryon between Stonewall Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will close at 5 p.m. Standard market-rate parking decks will be available in uptown, but Rhew says another plan may be a better option.

“My pro tip is to park at one of the LYNX Park and Ride lots and take the light rail in,” he said.

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Woody is a Charlotte native who came to WFAE from the world of NASCAR where he was host of NASCAR Today for MRN Radio as well as a pit reporter, turn announcer and host of the NASCAR Live pre race show for Cup Series races. Before that, he was a news anchor at WBT radio in Charlotte, a traffic reporter, editor of The Charlotte Observer’s University City Magazine, News/Sports Director at WEGO-AM in Concord and a Swiss Army knife in local cable television. His first job after graduating from Appalachian State University was news reporter at The Daily Independent in Kannapolis. Along the way he’s covered everything from murder trials and a national political convention to high school sports and minor league baseball.