Neighborhood pyrotechnicians stage hours-long firework displays across Richmond

Neighborhood pyrotechnicians stage hours-long firework displays across Richmond
Richmond's neighborhood pyrotechnic engineers marked Independence Day with hundreds of unsanctioned shows on July 4. Photo/ Soren Hemmila

While the City of Richmond promised 20 full minutes of fireworks during our July 3 celebration, amateur pyrotechnic engineers celebrated Independence Day with hundreds of unsanctioned shows that ran much longer.

According to police data, the department received 111 calls reporting fireworks on July 4. The department also received three gunshot detection activations on Thursday and one 911 call reporting shots fired.

Map of fireworks calls for service on July 4

The Richmond Police Department received 111 calls reporting fireworks on Thursday, July 4.

The fireworks started before the sun went down and continued unabated until slowing but not stopping close to midnight. 

Before the holiday, the Richmond Police Department reminded the public that fireworks are illegal in the City of Richmond, and 2,000 children are treated in the United States for fireworks-related injuries each year.

“Using fireworks not only puts you at risk of fines, but it also endangers our community,” police said. "Fireworks can cause serious injuries, start fires, and disturb neighbors and pets. Although illegal fireworks pose a significant danger, many of these injuries are from legal fireworks that you can buy at the local grocery store and do not leave the ground.”

Many neighbors took to social media to express their displeasure with the ongoing fireworks display. Maia Dixon of the North and East Neighborhood said last night’s fireworks were outrageous, and it was absolutely disgusting that they were allowed to continue.

“It’s dangerous, irresponsible, and completely inconsiderate,” Dixon wrote. “All for what? I’m curious: what other laws are we allowed to break while law enforcement and our local politicians turn a blind eye?”

Ellen Seskin, who also lives in the North and East, said last night’s fireworks were the worst in all the years she’s lived in Richmond.

“There is a constant rumbling of smaller explosions punctuated every five to ten seconds by loud explosions,” Seskin said. “There’s no break.”

In 2021, Richmond City Council rejected a staff-recommended ordinance that would have made property owners, tenants, and parents liable for possessing or using fireworks at a Richmond home, according to the Contra Costa Pulse.

City Council Rejects New Fireworks Ordinance, Will Look For Other Solutions | The Contra Costa Pulse
City Council voted down an ordinance that would have made it illegal to possess, sell, store, use, display, ignite or discharge fireworks in Richmond.

The Pulse said the council directed staff to track fireworks used for the following year, review policies from other cities, consider a buyback program, educate the community on fines, and establish incentives for residents to report illegal fireworks sales.

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