NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — It is one of New York City’s most beloved Christmas traditions, and it is back.
For the first time since 1933, “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes” was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but now New Yorkers and tourists alike will be high-stepping it to the venerable venue for the show’s triumphant return.
Performances for this season began at Radio City Music Hall last week.
“It’s not Christmas without the Radio City Rockettes,” Ashley Wells, an audience member, told NewsNation affiliate WPIX. “The Rockettes are iconic, and we’ve come all the way from Alabama.”
It was the night the extended Wells family of Dothan, Alabama, had been waiting for — for almost two years. The eight family members were eager to see the live nativity scene, the high kicks of the Rockettes and the parade of wooden soldiers.
Many who have attended shows so far have appeared comfortable showing proof-of-vaccination cards to gain entry. Once inside, fully vaccinated audience members do not have to wear masks.
“It means we have hope,” said Farah Vidal, who traveled with her family from the Dominican Republic to see the show. “Something we haven’t lost in all this is hope. It makes us really happy.”
A few anonymous cast members reportedly complained that there was no regular COVID-19 testing for cast and crew, as there is in Broadway theaters, but a spokesperson for Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which runs the music hall, stressed the size of the 6,000-seat venue and the more elaborate air filtration system as key differences.
“We’re following the same protocols we’ve effectively used at a roster of events for months – not only at Radio City but at our other venues in New York,” the spokesperson said.
“It means everything right now,” said Kohema English, a New Yorker going to see the show with her family. “This is our first time seeing the Christmas Spectacular.”
Since vaccinated international visitors are now allowed into the United States, the New York tourist industry is looking forward to a big boost in the city’s economy. The folks at Radio City are looking for a similar boost.
“Now that we have the chance after two years to come here to New York. It’s a dream come true,” said Zulay Peter, a tourist from Panama on his way to see the Christmas Spectacular.
“The Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes” runs through Jan. 2, 2022.
NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.