To reduce crowds and encourage social distancing, next week Macy’s will light up the sky with a series of short, unannounced fireworks shows leading up to July 4th.
However, some believe the element of surprise is disrespectful and insensitive, especially to military veterans who suffer from PTSD.
What You Need To Know:
- Macy’s is Planning To Have Unannounced Fireworks In Every Borough Next Week Leading Up To July 4.
- Some Military Veterans Who Suffer from PTSD Want Macy’s To Announce Time and Location to Protect Themselves.
- Some Veterans Say Sounds From Fireworks Trigger Haunting Memories.
- The City Approved Macy’s Plan for Fireworks to Discourage Large Crowds Gatherings amid Coronavirus Pandemic.
A City Hall spokesperson responded to NY1 in regards to the backlash the city has received for the fireworks plan, hoping to clarify their decision making.
"In an effort to keep New Yorkers safe during this pandemic, we have decided not to announce the locations of the fireworks far in advance to prevent crowds from forming,” the City Hall spokesperson told NY1. “We understand some New Yorkers do not want to be caught off guard though, which is why we are going to send out notifications on the evening of each display alerting New Yorkers to the approximate time and location of the fireworks so they can prepare accordingly."
James Fitzgerald is a former army staff sergeant who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He now lives in Bushwick and tells NY1 the vibrations from exploding fireworks and the lingering smell of burnt powder trigger haunting memories from his time fighting overseas.
“The sound, it is very similar to what mortar fire sounds like when you’re in Iraq, said Fitzgerald. “Like you would hear these battles going on in the distance.”
“That is one of the first memories that comes back,” he says, “and it floods my emotions because that is exactly what is sounded like.”
Fitzgerald is now deputy director of the NYC Veterans Alliance in Chelsea, and he says his organization has fielded more than dozen complaints from veterans about nightly fireworks, with many saying it has triggered PTSD.
He calls Macy’s current plan to have unannounced fireworks a “misstep.”
“Perhaps Macy’s should rethink their approach and provide transparency to the community, so we can best manage and best approach the situation safely,” says Fitzgerald.
In a statement earlier this week, Mayor de Blasio said the fireworks by Macy’s would provide a safe and exciting way to enjoy the holiday.
To discourage large crowds from gathering during the pandemic, the Mayor says information about the fireworks could be announced mere moments before they launch.
Despite a major crackdown by the NYPD to target suppliers of illegal fireworks, other residents in Bushwick who would like to see an end to the nightly displays say it hasn’t stopped, often going past 3 a.m.
“It’s annoying,” says Niquita Taliaferro. “You’re on the phone. It’s loud. Sometimes they’re close to me. Sometimes they’re far away and it feels like we’re in a war.”
Jamie Costello of Bushwick says the plan approved by the city to allow Macys to launch unannounced, large scale pyrotechnics next week in all 5 boroughs is in poor taste.
“I don’t think it’s a good marketing strategy because it’s a nuisance for everyone right now,” Costello said.
"In an effort to keep New Yorkers safe during this pandemic, we have decided not to announce the locations of the fireworks far in advance to prevent crowds from forming. We understand some New Yorkers do not want to be caught off guard though, which is why we are going to send out notifications on the evening of each display alerting New Yorkers to the approximate time and location of the fireworks so they can prepare accordingly,” said Jane Meyer, a Mayor de Blasio spokeswoman.