New mayor wants to change next year’s fireworks

Options including a light show with drones are being considered to reduce noise

The new administration at Prague’s City Hall is already looking at how to handle next year’s fireworks display on New Year’s Day. Budget items such as the city’s spending on fireworks should be included among the projects that will be approved in February.

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) wants the City Council to consider other options that will be less stressful to the environment and to pets.

This year’s show on Jan. 1 lasted 10 minutes and 52 seconds and cost some Kč 1.7 million, which was higher than the recent average of Kč 1 million for the shows. The theme was the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

Mayor Hřib was critical of the show before it took place. “Personally, I think the amount was unnecessarily higher than it should have been. However, this fireworks show was ordered by the previous leadership of Prague. It is a matter that we inherited,” Hřib told Radiožurnál.

Then-Mayor Adrianna Krnáčová (ANO) in 2018 agreed with the City Council to try to have less noisy elements, and the show on Jan. 1, 2019, did not end with as big a bang as it usually does. But still, it made quite a bit of noise that disturbs wildlife, pets and the elderly. The fireworks also release a lot of microparticle pollution into the air.

Hřib says that next year’s show can perhaps go further. “We promised to be a coalition of change. I think it would be worthwhile to try something a little different next year. I mean, for example, a variation on silent fireworks,” he said.

He expanded on this idea with a tweet on his Twitter account. “This year's New Year's fireworks was prepared by the past leadership. The next will be under our direction. [We are] considering so-called silent fireworks or an even bigger change: drones or other light shows without noise and ecological!” he said.

The previous administration also explored silent fireworks but found they are suited to much smaller shows such as garden parties. Light shows with drones, though, have already taken place for example in Warsaw, Poland.

Many people have complaints not about the large organized show on Jan. 1 at 6 pm, but the disorganized use of fireworks on midnight on Dec. 31, and the use of random fireworks staring around Christmas. People in particular say it disturbs pets, who have accuse hearing.

Mayor Hřib is less optimistic about solving this problem. He does not think he would be able to make a ban across the whole city, as there are not enough police to enforce it. He did say a ban could be applied in certain areas of the city, though.

One of the city’s ruling coalition parties, Praha Sobě, was a little more optimistic on Facebook. In response to comments they said that the coalition would look into ways to make the Dec. 31 celebrations better for the elderly, sick people, children and animals. Praha Sobě also agreed that the Jan. 1 official fireworks would be quieter.

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