Constant fireworks fray nerves in US city that never sleeps
NEW YORK (US) – Complaints are mounting about thundering fireworks exploding over otherwise quiet US neighbourhoods, fraying nerves already stretched by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Even in New York, the city that never sleeps, weary residents in the first half of June lodged a one-hundredfold increase in complaints compared to the same period last year, of fireworks that begin before sundown and rattle windows into the morning. The city’s 311 hotline received 2,492 fireworks complaints from June 1-16, up from just 25 in the same period in 2019.
The pyrotechnic displays occur almost every night across the five boroughs of New York.
“We have been terrorised by the fireworks for weeks now,” said Tanya Bonner, a government policy consultant in her 40s who lives in upper Manhattan, where Columbia University’s athletics complex had been converted into a COVID-19 field hospital.
“It is very bad up here. This area also has many essential workers – and they need rest.”
Bonner, who suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma and must leave her apartment windows open, said she can manage to sleep only by turning her television volume “way up” even though “the fireworks happen so close to my window that it is impossible to drown it out.”
To get some shuteye, an upper Manhattan resident said she closes all windows and muffles the blasts by turning on a noisy air conditioner, a fan, a white noise machine and screwing in some tight-fitting earplugs.
“Fireworks are illegal in New York City,” New York Police Detective Sophia Mason said in an email. But neighbouring New Jersey legalised some fireworks in 2017.
From Jan. 1 to June 14, the New York Police Department has seized fireworks on 26 occasions, made eight arrests, issued 22 criminal court summonses and responded to two fireworks-related injuries, Mason said.
In Massachusetts, which has the strictest curbs on fireworks, police blamed a spike in complaints in Boston and other municipalities on a stretch of warmer weather after months of stay-at-home orders.
“It’s just been months now of young people being inside, being bored,” said Lieutenant Sean Murtha of the Worcester Police Department, roughly 47 miles (76 km) west of Boston.
In upstate New York, Syracuse residents said they were being pushed to the brink by the pyrotechnics and more than 530 have signed a petition demanding Mayor Ben Walsh “crack down on constant fireworks” that have been booming since May.
Others said the noise was particularly bothersome for people with autism and family pets and worried that the fireworks create a fire hazard.
Mayor Walsh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field