Mayors of NEPA unite against consumer fireworks in letter to legislators
From a press release:
During the pandemic, Wilkes-Barre Mayor George C. Brown began meeting with other Northeast Pennsylvania mayors to pool resources and work on common issues in the area.
On June 24, they joined together under the banner of “Mayors of Northeastern Pennsylvania” to write a letter to express their distress with the increased use of consumer-grade Roman candles, bottle rockets, and other aerial fireworks, which were made legal to purchase in Pennsylvania under Act 43 of 2017.
Signed by Brown, Paige Gebhardt Cognetti of Scranton, Mike Lombardo of Pittston, Jeff Cusat of Hazleton, Kevin Coughlin of Nanticoke, Derek Slaughter of Williamsport, and Paul Roberts of Kingston, the full letter is below:
The Mayors of Northeastern Pennsylvania have joined together to express their distress with the increased use of consumer-grade Roman candles, bottle rockets, and other aerial fireworks, which were made legal to purchase in Pennsylvania under Act 43 of 2017.
Last year, residents of our cities and boroughs were besieged daily, from sundown to sunrise, with the constant deafening noise and reverberation of these fireworks. There is no doubt that the same commotion will be repeated this summer. The barrage of fireworks is detrimental to elderly residents, those who have young children and pets, and those who suffer from PTSD and the effect which these fireworks have on their peace of mind.
The additional 12 percent fireworks tax added to the state’s 6 percent sales tax is not worth the stress and unease caused by the constant noise of the fireworks. Residents fear that these aerial fireworks may land on their homes and cause damage to their properties and harm to their families. There is no way to predict where the aerial fireworks will land. Under Act 43, the fireworks available for purchase in Pennsylvania may not be used within 150 feet of an occupied structure. As cities and boroughs, populated by thousands of residents, it is difficult to find such open space. Unfortunately, Act 43 preempts municipalities from regulating consumer fireworks via a municipal ordinance.
As mayors, we are asking our elected representatives to adopt legislation to repeal Act 43, thereby restricting the use of consumer-grade fireworks. Additionally, we request that municipalities be allowed to set their own firework regulations so that the ordinances can protect the safety of its residents.
In closing, we remind our legislative representatives that the income earned by the state from the taxation of consumer-grade fireworks is not worth more than the safety of Pennsylvania’s residents.
Brown is not completely against fireworks or celebrating the holiday, however. The city is hosting an “Old Fashioned Fourth of July 2021 Celebration” on Sunday, July 4 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. at Kirby Park (160 Market St., Wilkes-Barre).
The event will have food and craft vendors as well as amusement rides and games. Fireworks, presented by SkyShooter Displays from Wapwallopen, begin at 9:30 p.m.
The Wilkes-Barre City Health Department will administer COVID-19 vaccines to those 18+ in the vaccine trailer from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Live music schedule at the Fourth of July Celebration
12:30 p.m.-2 p.m.: Nick the Pic
2:30 p.m.-4 p.m.: Mellifluous
4:30 p.m.-6:15 p.m.: Eddie Day & The Starfires
7 p.m.-9:15 p.m.: Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax
Kirby Park will close after the end of the fireworks show. Park rules during the Fourth of July Celebration are as follows:
- No alcoholic beverages
- No glass containers
- No smoking
- No personal fireworks
- No pets in Kirby Park