For the first time in more than 30 years, residents in St. Charles Parish will be able to legally shoot fireworks on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. While some residents are excited to pop the pyrotechnics, others are dreading the noise and potential for mayhem it will create.
Back in July, the St. Charles Parish Council passed a law legalizing fireworks in a 5-4 vote. However, the law didn’t take effect until after the July 4th holiday. The new law allows fireworks to be shot from 9 a.m. on Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1. Residents may continue to shoot fireworks from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
Fireworks are also legalized from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on July 3 and July 4.
Under the ordinance, the sale of fireworks inside the parish remains illegal and the pyrotechnics can not be fired within 1,000 feet from any gas station or industrial facility.
Erica Keller-Duvall said she plans on taking advantage of the new law, but will not go overboard.
“We will be safe and considerate of our neighbors,” she said.
Melba Elizabeth agrees, saying she is glad her family can finally shoot fireworks at home.
“It’s only a couple nights out of the year,” she said.However some residents would rather enjoy the peace and quiet and are worried about the potential problems fireworks create.
“The irresponsible persons who have been shooting fireworks in my neighborhood have taken the joy out of it for me,” Ellen Mitchell said. “I don’t like fireworks shot at my home, at my car, my windows, etc. I see many children handling fireworks who are unsupervised.”
Ashley Harris has a fear of fireworks and says she moved to St. Charles Parish in part because fireworks were banned at the time.
“Now that the law has changed, I will be in constant panic all night,” she said. “I have teenagers throwing fireworks at my door and now there is nothing I can do about it. It will not be a good night at my house.”
Pamela Hernandez expressed similar displeasure with the new law.
“I hope no one else lets theirs get out of control and a house burn down,” she said. “Our lots are way too small for fireworks.”
But Corey Rome said just because fireworks are now legal, doesn’t mean residents can shoot them with reckless abandon.
“It was illegal to shoot fireworks at people’s houses, cars and mailboxes before the law was removed, and it will still be illegal now,” he said. “Destruction of property, reckless endangerment and disturbing the peace are still illegal as far as I know. Those people being irresponsible when it was illegal will still be irresponsible. All this means is that the law-abiding citizens will be able to enjoy fireworks without repercussions.”
Andrew Plack added that a lot of people were already shooting fireworks when it was illegal and there were few negative consequences.
“There is already proof that the risk is minimal,” he said. “The new ordinance is sensible and moderate, and will free up law enforcement to focus on bigger public safety issues prevalent at New Year’s, especially DWIs.”
Last January when fireworks were illegal, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office issued 113 citations and confiscated around $10,000 worth of fireworks.