Update, Sunday, June 21st: Firework complaints have increase by 230X in June, and officials seek supplier crackdown.
As New York City heads into the official start of summer, the nightly firework displays that have been popping off around the city seem to be intensifying in scope and ambition.
Friday night, New Yorkers took to social media to document unsanctioned pyrotechnics that marked the end of a day of celebrating Juneteenth, marching en masse against police brutality, or tuning into Governor Andrew Cuomo's last daily COVID-19 briefing:
From modest displays:
To window-rattling disturbances:
The surge in illegal fireworks activity is palpable. A June 15th Gothamist story found that 849 complaints about fireworks were logged with the city's 311 hotline since June 1st -- a near 4,000 percent increase from the same period in 2019, which saw just 21 recorded complaints.
Former city parks commissioner and Upper West Sider Adrian Benepe told the New York Times that the NYPD isn't prioritizing the fireworks complaints: “The police have had their hands full with major issues — demonstrations, looting and Covid — and they just don’t have the time to respond to quality-of-life issues like this,” Mr. Benepe told Times.
A video showing some fireworks lit in front of the Crown Heights firehouse for Ladder 123/Engine 234 Tuesday night appeared to be set by people who emerged from the firehouse, the New York Post reported.
Slate wrote an explainer that includes the supply-side perspective of fireworks retailers operating in the era of COVID-19 and social distancing: "Firework sales tend to peak in the days prior to July 4, sometimes resulting in long lines for retailers like Phantom Fireworks. Because Phantom is currently limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at one time, the company is concerned it won’t be able to accommodate as many last-minute shoppers. That’s led Phantom to offer early-bird discounts to get more of its sales booked sooner. Maybe some of those discount shoppers will decide they can’t wait until the Fourth." In addition, "retailers have also started selling fireworks online and allowing for pickup service" in places like New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, a reminder that Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised a Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show in two weeks.