Grand Rapids will now allow fireworks every Juneteenth

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids will now allow residents to fire off consumer-grade fireworks in the city in celebration of Juneteenth.

On Thursday, May 26, Grand Rapids officials said they had revised the city’s fireworks ordinance to allow discharges of consumer-grade fireworks every year on Juneteenth, which is observed each June 19.

Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration that commemorates the emancipation of Black people from slavery in the United States.

The celebration originated in Galveston, Texas, when slaves on June 19, 1865, learned that President Abraham Lincoln had outlawed slavery more than two years earlier. Texas was the last state in the former Confederacy to receive word that slavery had been abolished.

In 2020, Grand Rapids leaders unanimously approved making the annual Juneteenth celebration in the city a city-sponsored event. The specific Juneteenth event the city sponsors is the Grand Rapids Juneteenth Freedom Festival Dundunba.

Grand Rapids has five other city-sponsored events. Those are Veterans’ Day, 4th of July, the Hollyhock Lane Parade on July 4, Memorial Day and National Night Out.

Under the new rules, firework discharges are now allowed on June 19 between 11 am and 11:15 pm

This weekend, fireworks will also be allowed from 11 am and 11:15 pm on Saturday and Sunday prior to Memorial Day on Monday, May 30.

The city also allows firework discharges on New Year’s Eve, from June 29 to July 4 and on the Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day.

Those who violate the city’s fireworks ordinance are liable to receive a civil fine of $1,000 for each violation of the ordinance.

City officials say they encourage people to report fireworks being done outside of allowed times by calling 616-456-3400. Those who perceive an imminent danger and do not feel safe in their neighborhood can also call 911 to report any violations.

City officials say they also want to reduce fireworks accidents, and the Grand Rapids Fire Department offered the following safety tips:

  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions contained on the package.
  • Never allow children to play with or ignite any fireworks. Sparklers, although considered by many the ideal safe firework for the young, burn at extremely high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Many children do not understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
  • Keep a bucket of water, or garden hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials. Never light a firework while holding it in your hand.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. Duds can re-ignite and injure you. If you must move them, consider scooping them up with a shovel and dropping them into a bucket of water to extinguish. Throw them away after they are extinguished.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Never mix fireworks and alcohol.
  • Observe local laws.
  • State law prohibits igniting fireworks on a public street, public sidewalk, park, church, school, or public rights of way.
  • Before retiring for the evening, make sure that your yard, shrubbery, trees and your home are free of any unwanted burning. Make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home.

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