EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — After a year of missed holidays, birthdays and weddings, families were finally brought back together Thursday at a special event in New Jersey.
CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis was there for the emotional reunions.READ MORE: Shark Sighted Off Jones Beach Day After Lifeguard Was Bitten
It wasn’t the usual game day at MetLife Stadium. Instead, it was a day of families reuniting with loves ones after a long year apart.
“Extremely excited to see them. It’s gonna be a really… I know we’re gonna cry,” said Florida resident Michele Wasserman.
She and her sister Sue were waiting to reunite with family after an emotional year. They lost their 69-year-old brother Steve to COVID and the pandemic kept them from traveling to New Jersey to be with his wife and kids.
“We couldn’t come up for the funeral… It’s gonna be a happy and bittersweet reunion,” Wasserman said.
It was their first time hugging – or simply being together – in nearly two years.
“We’re just totally overwhelmed,” Wasserman said. “It’s so exciting and happy.”
“We’re very close and just being together is what we missed out on,” said Wasserman’s sister-in-law Dorothea Barry, from Manalapan.READ MORE: Full Lineup Revealed For 'We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert' In Central Park
The special celebration was organized by the secure identity company CLEAR which, with the help of United Airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, brought families here from Florida for free.
Organizers said they picked people for this opportunity who are active in their communities and have given back in different ways.
Everyone was tested for COVID before entering the stadium for the long-awaited embraces.
“I think it is so important to show people that we can get back together safely,” said CLEAR’s Laura Brounstein.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted the event where about 25 families were reunited.
Brooklyn resident Tanesha Smith-Wattley hadn’t seen her parents since 2019.
“What made it so priceless was just seeing them hug my children,” Smith-Wattley said.
“It’s super, just awesome,” said her mom Love Smith.MORE NEWS: NYPD: William Roberson Charged With Vandalizing Black Wall Street Gallery In SoHo
After an unforgettable year, everyone’s holding their loved ones closer than ever.