Fireworks retailers hit out at New Year display bans ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

New Year's fireworks at Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn. January 1, 2019.
New Year's fireworks at Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn. January 1, 2019. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Fireworks retailers have hit out at calls to celebrate New Year's Eve without pyrotechnics, both from members of the public, particularly pet-owners, and local authorities.

"Dogs are able to bark 24/7, and unfortunately, neighbors can do nothing," said Eduard Tani, director of fireworks maker Keskus Arnika OÜ.

"When we let off fireworks nowadays, and a dog gets frightened, then everyone seems to go up on their hind legs. The question is, who in Estonia is more valuable - a person or a dog?" Tani went on.

Tani added that the decision by many municiaplities across the country to not host a fireworks display to see in 2020, could actually make the situation worse for dogs and other pets, as more people stay at home to have their own displays in their backyards rather than attending the town's official version.

Pärnu city government says it is not having a fireworks show this year, and Otepää and Valga municipalities have joined it; while Tallinn is holding its annual fireworks display in Vabaduse väljak, the city government says it is weighing up having an alternative, such as a lights show, from next year, and the city center district has encouraged residents not to hold displays of their own, citing environmental concerns as well as pet issues. The Lasnamäe district has also said it will not have a display.

Fireworks shows have not only been cancelled ahead of the festive season; a planned fireworks display marking a sales drive at a shopping center in Haapsalu in October was cancelled following pressure from local pet owners.

"There was one New Year's Eve in Estonia where many cities opted out of having fireworks displays. That was when there was a tsunami in Thailand (the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami-ed). And then people came to our desk and said they had to make their own displays, because the city wasn't holding one," he said.

Ivo Melder, board chair or fireworks company, Ruf Eesti, also rejects environmental arguments and says while fireworks may light up the sky, they cause is little tangible damage.

"These fireworks are not made from toxic materials. The ecological footprint from fireworks is definitely at the lower end, rather than the top end [of the scale]. The materials used are recyclable, heavy metals are not used, and air oxygen is not consumed by the fireworks," Melder said, adding that the current anti-firework attitude in Estonia is a temporary fad, in his opinion.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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