No food, no music, no problem! Fireworks are tonight at Stewart Park.

“Stewart Park will not have musical performances this year,” says City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, but tonight’s fireworks are still planned for Stewart Park. “This could not have happened without you. Hundreds of you donated your time and money,” says the Mayor.

Ithacans enjoy the community fireworks at Stewart Park in 2015. 14850 Photo.

Ithacans enjoy the community fireworks at Stewart Park in 2015. 14850 Photo.

Ithaca’s fireworks show at Stewart Park has had live music with bands in the past, and last year two DJs from WVBR provided rock music for the crowd, including some X Ambassadors, a band with Ithaca roots.

Getting to the Fireworks

Mayor Myrick suggests not trying to drive to Stewart Park unless you need handicap parking. (If you do, just be prepared to show your placard at the entrance.) Free parking is available in the downtown city-owned garages and TCAT is offering a free shuttle from downtown to the show and back.

Buses labeled “Fireworks” will run about every ten minutes from 7:30 to 9:30pm, from the Albany Street and State Street corner, and the Green Street and Seneca Street stations. They’ll also stop along Cayuga Street, but only as far north as Lincoln Street. TCAT says the bus service to Stewart Park will end at 9:30pm, just before the fireworks are scheduled to begin, and ask that passengers immediately head to the pick-up area at the entryway circle as soon as the fireworks show is over for a ride back.

Parking will also be available at Ithaca High School and Boynton Middle School, and people can walk from there. There’s limited parking available at Cass Park, across the south end of Cayuga Lake. The waterfront trail will be closed from the golf course to Stewart Park at 9pm, so plan on walking through before then!

Mayor Myrick also reminds us it’s not too late to contribute time or money. Visit the Ithaca Fireworks page on Facebook to chip in.

Are personal fireworks legal?

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in 2014 allowing the sale of small fireworks to consumers, but the new law gives counties the final say. Lt. Thomas T. Basher Jr. of the Ithaca Fire Department says, “While about half of the counties in New York State have chosen to allow the regulated sale of some fireworks, Tompkins County has opted out.”

Elsewhere in the state, according to Ithaca Fire Department, consumer fireworks can be sold in counties that opt in from June 1st to July 5th, and then again for the holidays from December 26th to January 2nd. State laws as of 2009 also give local municipalities authority to issue permits for fireworks displays at private events such as weddings and parties.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, thousands of people are injured while using consumer fireworks every 4th of July holiday, and more fires are reported on July 4th in the U.S. than any other day of the year. The organization says an estimated 8,700 consumers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“We’ve had some near misses when fireworks were shot off and landed near a building causing a fire,” Chief Tom Parsons of the Ithaca Fire Department told us last summer. “We had one last year up on Eddy Street, and three years ago a similar incident up on Oak Ave. In both cases, the fireworks were shot off, landed in someone else’s back yard, and no one followed up where they landed until a passerby noticed smoke and/or flames.”

“Even though in some places certain types of fireworks are legal, we are urging New Yorkers to be smart and leave the fireworks to the professionals,” said Firemen’s Association of the State of New York president Robert McConville. “Don’t let an injury or fire ruin your Fourth of July Holiday. Instead, take in one of the hundreds of public fireworks displays available throughout the state.”

Even sparklers “burn at up to 1,800 degrees,” according to the IFD’s Tom Basher, “and if you have children running around with them, they can cause burns to their hands and start fires.”

FASNY offers some tips for safe fireworks enjoyment:

  • Obey and respect any safety barriers set up around a fireworks show site.
  • Don’t bring pets. The loud noises can scare animals or damage their hearing.
  • Don’t possess or shoot off fireworks on your own. You risk injury to yourself and your friends, and you’re breaking the law.
  • Don’t attempt to pick up and re-light used fireworks. They may still be active and can cause serious burns.
  • Often, the best view of a professional fireworks display is from a quarter mile or more away.

In our area, counties that have opted in to allow sales of sparkler type fireworks include Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, and Steuben. If you’re traveling, note that FAA rules prohibit carrying fireworks of any kind, even the smallest sparklers, in either checked or carry-on baggage.

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