With the Fourth of July right around the corner, I want to remind 40th Ward neighbors that fireworks are illegal in Chicago; even sparklers are banned. The only permitted “fireworks” in Chicago are glowworms, smoke bombs and party poppers. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) reported a 700% increase in fireworks complaints in 2020, and my office has heard from many residents who are concerned about the uptick in fireworks usage throughout the 40th Ward.
In addition to being banned in Chicago, fireworks pose an inherent safety risk, and veterans, senior citizens, pets, and area wildlife are negatively impacted by the loud, sudden noises. For our veterans, those who have fought in wars and served to defend our country, there is a heartbreaking irony in the trauma they endure during this time.
It is in that context that I urge our neighbors to be mindful and stop any fireworks activity this year. I am also concerned about the congregation of people at July 4th celebrations and the potential spread of COVID-19, especially in regards to activity that has previously occurred at Winnemac Park. In the past, there may have been a wink and a nod to such activity, but that can’t continue under our new normal. We need to reassess our actions, so that as a community, we are ensuring safety and continuing the COVID-19 precautions that have helped us reduce the number of infections in Chicago.
For our neighbors that are asking what can be done to curb the behavior, it is truly about enforcement, so I recommend that wherever possible, neighbors speak to those lighting fireworks and ask them to be more mindful of the other folks who live in the area. The other course of action would be to call the police, so that there is a record of where activity is occurring in order to concentrate efforts in curbing behavior.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.
Alderman Andre Vasquez