Like most in-door celebrations over the holidays in New York, Blue & Bougie Executive Jerry McDonald says the Omicron variant “seriously affected” patrons’ attendance at his annual gala New Year’s celebration on Jan. 2 at the Elegant Loft in Mt Vernon.
“When we announced Blue & Bougie in mid-November, the number of people infected daily by COVID-19 in New York was significantly down,” McDonald told Caribbean Life on Tuesday. “Restaurants were fully opened, and the City was almost back to normal. Everyone was ready to get out and have a grand time. Our phones were ringing off the hook.
“We were optimistic that we would pull a bumper crowd as we had quickly pre-sold 300 regular and VIP tickets,” he added. “But once the first person infected in New York with Omicron was announced in the news, and it became apparent that this new strain was more contagious, we took a big hit.”
McDonald said several patrons who had bought pre-sold tickets asked for a refund.
“Some of our core supporters started expressing hesitation about attending,” he said. “The news only got worse. At that point, we knew it would be an uphill task. To be honest, we actually thought seriously about canceling the event. But since we had put state safety protocols in place, we decided to move forward.”
McDonald said that while some party promoters in the Tri-State continue to hype full-service parties, his team adopted a more conservative approach.
“Safety of our Blue and Bougie patrons is our first priority, always,” he said. “This is why we have not hosted a Blue & Bougie event since November 2019.
“Once we decided to move forward with an event, from the outset, we started encouraging only vaccinated patrons or those with a negative COVID-19 test to attend,” McDonald added.
Nevertheless, he said patrons who attended the New Year’s event at the Elegant Loft had “a grand time.”
“Everybody had a blast,” McDonald said. “The music by the DJs was excellent, and the vibe was magical.
“I must applaud the beautiful ladies who spared no expense in coming out in their finest blue outfits,” he added. “The men were not to be outdone, and they, too were, looking spiffy in blue.”
McDonald said that plans are now in place for Blue & Bougie Impact Awardee, actor Nick Creegan, to be presented with his award at a small gathering in Mt Vernon next week.
Creegan, whose mother is from St Mary, Jamaica, is a major recurring character on Law and Order: Organized Crime, opposite Dylan McDermott.
He will also be presented with a Mayoral Proclamation from the Mayor of Mt Vernon, Shawyn Patterson-Howard, McDonald said.