Public Safety Statement on a Different New Year's Eve

PITTSBURGH, PA (Dec. 30, 2020) — As with nearly everything in this challenging and tumultuous year, Pittsburgh’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will be different from years past. 

Dec. 31 is traditionally a night that draws tens of thousands of people to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Highmark First Night Pittsburgh celebrations at venues throughout Downtown. 

Not this year.

Due to the pandemic, venues are closed, large gatherings are prohibited, fireworks have been cancelled and First Night has transformed into a made-for-TV-only event. 

“I know that we all want—and absolutely deserve—to celebrate New Year’s Eve as we always do: With family and friends, with fireworks and with fanfare,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “That’s just not possible or responsible this year. Better times are certainly ahead, but we must maintain our resolve now in order to see this pandemic through to the end.” 

Hissrich re-issued his traditional New Year’s Eve message, with a caveat: Celebrate responsibly—ideally at home—and do not engage in dangerous or illegal activities. 

Such activities include shooting guns off in the air. What goes up will come down, and the results are tragic when people are hit by celebratory gunfire. Just last year, a woman in Texas was struck and killed by a descending bullet as she stood in her driveway to watch fireworks. There have been many other documented cases of celebratory gunfire killing innocent people. Police will monitor and respond to ShotSpotter activations throughout the city. Officers will arrest anyone caught discharging a firearm in public. 

As a reminder, city law prohibits the use of any fireworks, even those that are legal, within 150 feet of a structure.

Never drink and drive. Officers will be actively looking for impaired motorists. 

Lastly, please adhere to the Governor’s health regulations regarding Covid-19. Wear a mask, social distance and do not attend gatherings with people from outside of your home. 

Be safe, Pittsburghers, as we rightfully banish 2020 to the ash heap of history and turn a hopeful eye to what might lie ahead. 






Chris Togneri
Public Information Officer
Public Safety