Despite the practice being stopped by City Hall earlier this year, Praguers will get to see a special fireworks show during New Year’s celebrations, albeit privately organised by an initiative that seeks to keep the tradition alive. According to Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, City Hall is not banning anyone from using fireworks, but simply wants to set a good example in not using environmentally damaging pyrotechnics that are also a cause of stress for many people and animals.
Last year’s show, accompanied by a special sound program, was seen by some Praguers as the best to date. However, there was also a growing movement against the use of fireworks, which argued that they are unpleasant for young children, seniors and animals, while also being bad for the environment.
This position was supported by the Prague mayor, who said that too much money had been spent on fireworks in the past and highlighted that many European cities have moved away from the practice.
In August of this year City Hall announced that it was going to organize a video mapping show instead, similar to that in Prague’s autumn Signal Festival.
The move sparked a countermovement which is fighting to keep the tradition alive by raising public funds to organise an independent large scale firework shows, winning support from some of City Hall’s opposition politicians.
Jan Šašroun is the head of Ohňostroj pro Prahu (Fireworks for Prague), a voluntary association which announced earlier this week that it has succeeded in organising a largescale fireworks show on New Year’s separately from City Hall.
“Up until the final moments it was unclear whether we would secure enough funds. In the end we also chipped in with our own money to make it happen. We actually expected a little more support, but it still worked out in the end.”
He says that Prague City Hall did voice valid reasons against the firework spectacle and that pyrotechnics can be dangerous.
However, he believes that the complaints made by some citizens were aimed at individuals and small groups firing off pyrotechnics spontaneously on during the celebrations, rather than the 10 to 15 minute professionally-organized main show.
To prove their point the group launched an awareness campaign called #NEBUDUSTŘÍLET (I will not fire) along with the firework fundraiser.
“Specifically that means getting people not to use pyrotechnics excessively, ideally very little or not at all.
“We made a video and are also holding presentations at schools. Our aim is to get people more involved, to talk to their neighbours and reach agreements for example in their housing cooperatives.”
He says that it is difficult to measure how the successful the campaign has been thus far, but promises more intense commitment next year and wants to get shopping malls involved as well.
As for the mayor, Mr. Hřib said in an interview for iDnes that Prague City Hall is simply leading by example in cancelling the show and emphasized that private use of fireworks is not prohibited.
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