CAPITAL REGION – The state planned official fireworks displays Tuesday night to mark a vaccine milestone at the lifting of COVID restrictions, but unofficial displays seem likely in cities like Schenectady and Albany, where illegal neighborhood pyrotechnic displays take place on almost any warm night.
The official statewide celebration — including a display in downtown Albany at the Empire State Plaza — also got the goat of some Republican state legislators, who noted that even as COVID-19 restrictions are ending, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is loath to give up the emergency powers that let him put those restrictions in place.
“If the state of emergency has not lifted the Gov still has the power to roll back one day, reinstitute the next,” Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, wrote on Twitter.
Walsh also wrote, in a sarcastic tweet about the fireworks that was later deleted, “Fantastic. That will muffle the gunfire in Albany a little.”
Albany has seen a rash of sometimes fatal shootings this year and last, in a phenomena Mayor Kathy Sheehan has blamed in part on the pandemic and the way it last year kept counseling and social services programs from being conducted in-person in the most-affected neighborhoods.
In Schenectady, the City Council has discussed what the city might be able to do to crack down on illegal fireworks displays in residential areas around the city, which have become an annual problem.
“I suspect we’ll get our fair share of people setting off fireworks,” Schenectady Councilman John Polimeni, who recently spoke out about the issue, said Tuesday afternoon. He said he hadn’t heard about the governor’s announcement, and remains hopeful that pressure from city officials and opposition from neighborhood association leaders will tamp down on the pyrotechnic displays this year in the city.
Illegal fireworks have also been an ongoing problem in Albany, including in the neighborhoods around the Empire State Plaza. And, social media indicated, in many other corners of the state.
“Fireworks are a great way to celebrate the end of a long road that has caused universal PTSD, a condition which may result in traumatic responses to loud and sudden noises. Also, the poor dogs of NY,” one pseudonymous Twitter user wrote in a reply to Cuomo.