Recent explosion of fireworks mystifies Brooklyn residents
Neighborhood youths, adults — and firefighters?
First, it was the constant wail of ambulance sirens carrying coronavirus victims to the hospital. Now, people in the city that never sleeps have a new audio accompaniment to their surreal spring: booming, amateur fireworks displays that start at sundown and continue deep into the night.
Illicit bursts of fireworks from street corners and rooftops aren’t uncommon in the City’s neighborhoods in the days before the Fourth of July, but the past few weeks have seen an extraordinary surge in such displays, especially in Brooklyn.
Many complaints are coming from neighborhoods near Prospect Park, such as Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush and Park Slope, according to Patch and other news sources. However, there’s no simple explanation of who in particular is setting them off.
Many of them are doubtless set off by neighborhood residents. For example, earlier this week, a man setting off a firework on Bedford Avenue was injured when the device shot out the back end instead of the front. He was taken to Kings County Hospital.
But even some firefighters seem to be getting into the act. For example, one Crown Heights resident was passing by FDNY Ladder 123 on St. John’s Place when he saw a group of firefighters ignite what appeared to be a display of fireworks, according to the New York Post. He recorded video of the fireworks at the scene until one of the firefighters allegedly confronted him about filming the display.
Regardless, there were more than 1,300 fireworks-related complaints to the city’s 311 noise complaint hotline through the first half of the month, including 455 on Sunday. Usually, there are just a few dozen such complaints during that time period.
While the short sparklers that parents let kids twirl until they quickly flame out can be purchased, the kind of fireworks that create the booming blasts in Brooklyn can’t be sold legally in New York.
But people are getting them — a lot of them, from the sound of things.
In Brooklyn, a sharp divide has opened between residents aggravated by the noise and threatening to call authorities and others who cautioning that could lead to the type of dangerous police action some have just spent weeks protesting.
“Complaining about the fireworks is goofy and probably a little racist but I am curious how every teenager in Brooklyn got a month’s supply,” Brooklyn resident Rachel Millman wrote on Twitter.
Millman added in an email that fireworks are common in Brooklyn every summer and she doesn’t mind them, but she’s confused, like many others, why there are so many nightly now.
An NYPD spokesperson stressed that fireworks are illegal in New York City and urged people to report violations involving them. Brooklyn resident Brittany Sturrett hasn’t done that, though she said the noise is a nuisance.
“They are a block from my house,” she said. “I see them from my window and it freaks out my dog.”
Maybe, some Brooklynites say, the pyrotechnics are a show of support for the protesters. Perhaps they’re a way to blow off steam — and plenty of smoke — after being stuck at home all spring because of the coronavirus.
Regardless, the firework fun — or fury — isn’t limited to New York. They can be heard further to the north in Westchester County, and are ringing out more than normal in locations throughout the Northeast. Boston, Baltimore, Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York are among the cities where residents have noticed a similar phenomenon.
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