Fireworks have struck a COVID-19 nerve this year, with Chelsea residents up in arms as louder and bigger fireworks seemingly go off every night all night long – and City officials and Chelsea Police are looking to crack down.
Councilor Todd Taylor said about five weeks ago he began getting angry texts from his constituents living next to Voke Park about fireworks going off at all hours of the night. Knowing Chelsea in the summer, fireworks are a part of life for about three weeks surrounding Independence Day, but this was somehow different.
“After getting five calls I went down to the park,” he said. “It was just littered with big fireworks. One of them was three feet tall and stuck in the middle of the field. That was exactly what the neighbors were saying. It isn’t like bottle rocket. It was bombs going off, and every night until about 3 a.m. or later.”
That same day, Councillor Taylor put up a Facebook post on Chelsea Happenings to see if anyone else was being bothered.
And boy were they.
“I had no idea what a nerve it would strike,” he said. “It ended up triggering about 400 complaints in the comments. People were really mad all over the city, while some of the younger kids on there were mocking their anger. Shortly after I read an article in the Boston papers about this being a problem in Boston, Revere, Everett and Somerville. It really appeared something was going on here.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes are taking the matter very seriously and have put on overtime to find those that are shooting off fireworks so late at night so consistently.
Ambrosino said they are telling residents to call 9-1-1 and report the location and police will respond.
Kyes said it was a breach of the public peace.
“We are issuing verbal warnings to apparent violators but if that does not work we have no choice but to impose monetary fines as a violation of our city ordinance,” he said. “The frequency and duration of these displays well after midnight is not only a nuisance and breach of the public peace but they are very dangerous as well as well in terms of a potential fire hazard. We can continue to do everything we can working with our concerned residents to respond in both a reactive as well as a proactive manner. We remain optimistic that we attain a high level of compliance due to the public safety risk involved.”
Taylor said there appears to be something coordinated about the fireworks – particularly in that so much money would be required to buy so many to shoot off for so long every night. He said he believes law enforcement will get to the bottom of whatever the real motivation is.
“There does seem to be some sort of coordinated effort going on,” said Taylor. “I don’t know if it has any connection to the protests or not. I’ve been told that might be the case. It’s going on all over the City and I still have people calling me or texting me about when they start and when they stop. It’s every day. I’ve never seen people more upset in Chelsea than about this. The question becomes who is funding all of this because it has to be very expensive.”
Taylor said he has reports of elderly people, veterans with PTSD and pets being traumatized – not to mention the essential workers who are trying to sleep prior to having to work long, tough shifts.
He said he would be willing to investigate whether or not there needs to be a hearing at City Hall, and maybe a change to the ordinance to stiffen the penalties for shooting off fireworks, particularly very late at night.