2023’s problems and peeves are bid a symbolic farewell at pre-New Year’s Times Square event

Dec 29, 2023, 7:59 AM | Updated: 10:33 am

Magician Devonte Rosero, right, burns notes written by people in Times Square in New York, Thursday...

Magician Devonte Rosero, right, burns notes written by people in Times Square in New York, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023. The burning was part an event called Good Riddance Day, where people wrote their frustrations or problems on slips of paper that were then burned, symbolizing hope for better year ahead. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

(AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

NEW YORK (AP) — One person wanted to get past anger issues. Others sought to turn the page on medical bills, work stress, insecurities, taxes, regrets, bad habits, bad hair days, COVID-19, worrying about what other people think, and “all negativity of 2023.”

People hoping to shed those and other problems converged on Times Square Thursday for “Good Riddance Day,” a promotional pre-New Year’s Eve event that offers a chance to, at least symbolically, cast away burdens, peeves and bad memories.

“The whole world is going through this. There’s lots of people going through bad experiences. Wars, inflation, life has been rough. I’m just hoping for 2024 to just give everyone a break from those terrible things,” Angel Villaneuva of Washington said after watching his personal banes — bad relationships and negative energy and experiences — go up in smoke.

Previous iterations of “Good Riddance Day” have involved shredders and a dumpster. But this year, magician Devonte Rosero used a grill lighter and a flourish of his hand to quickly incinerate pieces of paper on which Villaneuva and others had written down what they wanted to put behind them.

For Carol Vera, that’s fast food and unhealthy snacks, now that she’s learned she has high cholesterol levels. But on a broader level, the New Yorker is sad about conflict around the world.

“We should be focusing on humanity, instead of fighting with each other,” Vera said.

Natasha Naheir was keen to be done with college applications, school, bad hair and makeup days, and fake friends. Naheir, who was visiting from North Carolina, is excited for 2024: “There’s a lot we can improve from this year,” she said.

Despite all the troubles of 2023, Villaneuva is optimistic, too.

“Some people might think it’s too good to be true to be hopeful or to wish for something, but I like to stay hopeful and positive,” he said.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed.

Related: Give yourself grace and achievable goals for your New Year’s resolution, therapist says

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2023’s problems and peeves are bid a symbolic farewell at pre-New Year’s Times Square event