Amsterdam welcomed in the new year in traditional style; lots of pretty fireworks, and lots of loud fireworks. Or as one friend put it “recreated Baghdad from 11pm to 4am”. Perhaps that sounds like an over-statement, but a very nice policeman has just explained on TV that some of the illegal (but available) fireworks have the firepower equivalent to 2-4 hand grenades.
Most cities have a big professional fireworks display, and there’s ongoing competition to be the biggest and the best. Meanwhile Amsterdam has little of that and lots of people letting off their own fireworks on street corners. It’s a nice bit of craziness and anarchy in what is usually a very organised regulated country.
But letting off fireworks is not as universal as it might appear. In December ING’s daily poll (Dutch only) asked two fireworks related questions;
When are you buying fireworks this year?
To which 91% of respondents answered “I’m not buying any fireworks” (At 2pm on 29 December when the number of respondents stood at 35,089)
I spent on fireworks this year a total of …
To which 86% or respondents answered “nothing” (from a total of 119,000 respondents)
It seems there are a lot of us just watching other people burn their money.
Not everyone in the Netherlands likes the fireworks, there is obvious some risk in combining explosives with alcohol consumption, and every year there are injuries and damage to property. Apparently this year the number of people injured and the calls to emergency services were down.
GroenLinks (a political party) have now set up a website to report any nuisance caused by fireworks, and they recorded over 88,000 submissions across the country. My apartment is somewhere under that big red dot in the middle. You can see a more interactive map on the site.
People could report nuisances such as;
- loud noise
- smoke from the fireworks
- damage to public or private property
- thrown or abandoned rubbish from fireworks
- dangerous situation for spectators
- dangerous situation for passers-by
- dangerous or stressful situation for animals
I did witness most of the above, and noticed fireworks being let off before the legal time and well after the legal time. But actually it seemed better than last year; translation = I was able to go to sleep at some point. Or maybe I just had more wine to celebrate this new year…