If you were anywhere in Prague with a good view of the city on New Year’s Eve, you would have witnessed fireworks going off all around the city as the clock rang in 2019 – – and for a few hours before and after, too.
But while hundreds of fireworks going off around the city on New Year’s Eve can be a spectacular view for onlookers, their unregulated use can result in injury to users and pedestrians, damage to the environment, and stress or even death to the local wildlife (and pets).
Firework displays are generally regulated across the Czech Republic – permission must be granted by the municipality before setting them off – but it’s free reign during a 10-hour window from 16:00 on December 31 through 2:00 on January 1, when residents are granted a night-long opportunity to set them off at will.
A new petition from the local civic organization Donaba o.s.m however, hopes to change that. While their petition calling for tighter regulations surrounding New Year’s fireworks displays had received only a few hundred signatures before the holidays, that number has quickly shot up to more than 10,000 over the past few days.
“Yes, it is usually only one day a year,” reads the petition, “but even so, one day is responsible for a large number of lost, injured, or dead animals and domestic pets, outraged and stressed forest wildlife, burned and injured people, damaged and destroyed cars and other property, not to mention air pollution, which in one evening can equal the amount fumes produced by cars during two months of operation on the D1 motorway.”
Rather than calling for specific action to regulate fireworks, the petition’s authors are simply seeking to raise the issue to local politicians. They suggest, for example, that the use of fireworks be limited to a more modest window at midnight rather than a night-long affair.
They might have a supporter in new Prague mayor Zdeněk Hřib. Speaking at Prague’s official fireworks show on New Year’s Day, Hřib envisioned a future where the city’s annual celebration employed an alternative that has less impact on local wildlife.
That could be something like the laser light show that the Signal Festival brings to Prague every year, or a more environmentally-friendly fireworks display that would result in less smoke and noise.
But while the mayor would like to see changes in the city’s official fireworks display, he held less hope for New Year’s Eve regulations.
“I can not imagine the full-scale regulation of home-made fireworks on New Year’s Eve, in terms of city-center tourism and the high popularity of fireworks among residents,” Hřib told Aktuálně.cz.
You can view and/or sign the petition for tighter New Year’s Eve fireworks regulations in the Czech Republic at this link.