Times Square was alive again with music and dancing Wednesday afternoon even as all the Broadway theaters remain dark due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Association for a Better New York (ABNY) joined community organizers, census advocates and professional dancers hosted a live, in-person flash mob dance and census-taking event Wednesday afternoon in Duffy Square with emphasis on signing people up for the census.
With the self-response period of the census ending on or about Sept. 30, ABNY is calling upon New Yorkers to fill out their census and celebrate the diversity of New York City through dance.
The performers maintained six feet apart and wearing face coverings for protection. Tap dancer Omar Edwards, a staple on the Broadway circuit, highlighted the performance.
The day’s celebration encouraged New Yorkers to complete their census forms and served as a tribute to a still active and exciting New York City. Times Square, an inconceivable ghost town at the height of the pandemic in March and April, sees more and more visitors returning there each day.
In addition to the live flash mob performance, ABNY is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau in their Mobile Questionnaire Assistance (MQA) program to assist people in self-responding to the 2020 Census. Local census response representatives were onsite to help attendees complete their Census form on a 2020 Census tablet or on their own device, while practicing state and local social distancing protocols.
All census workers have been trained in social distancing protocols and issued personal protective equipment, to be worn during MQA support. Hand sanitizer and masks will also be available onsite.
Dawn Kelly of the Nourish Spot, one of the sponsors of the event with employee Sebastian Roseway, helped sign up people to fill out the census.
“We all need to be counted because if we are not counted, small businesses like mine won’t have the resources we need to service the demographics in our community,” Kelly said. “We won’t have the bridges and the hospitals we need. we need counted so that the federal funding that is supposed to go to NYC comes to the people who need it most.”
The event was held in partnership with Times Square Alliance, NYC Census 2020, New York City Council, New York Counts 2020, Central Labor Council, and United Way as part of New York City’s Census Week of Action “Countdown to Our Future” to make sure that everyone gets counted, whether electronically, online, or in-person.