PITTSBURGH, PA (July 2, 2021) --- After muted Independence Day celebrations in the City last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pittsburgh is set to mark the Fourth of July with fanfare this coming weekend.
The City-sponsored fireworks display is back with the City of Pittsburgh’s 2021 Independence Day Celebration in Point State Park on Sunday, July 4. The family-friendly celebration and activities leading up to the main event are sure to draw large crowds to the Downtown core.
In preparation, Pittsburgh Police, Allegheny County Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Port Authority Police, Pittsburgh Police Community Engagement Officers, and the Street Outreach team will be working together to keep everyone safe this holiday weekend.
“We expect this to be one of the busiest nights of the year with people eager to gather together after a challenging time. We are all looking forward to celebrating in true Pittsburgh style with a grand fireworks display, but Public Safety’s primary focus will always be to protect residents and visitors so they can safely enjoy Independence Day with their families and friends,” said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.
“To that end, there will be more than a dozen mobile light towers at key locations to increase visibility Downtown. The Pittsburgh Police, PA State Police, and Allegheny County Mounted Units will be activated to ensure crowds keep moving, allowing first responders to reach people should an emergency occur.”
The City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Police will not allow violence and unruly revelers to ruin what should be a safe event. Fights and violence of any kind will not be tolerated. Point State Park Rangers and Pittsburgh Police will be doing light bag screenings at the Park’s entrances. The list of prohibited items can be found on the event website: https://pittsburghpa.gov/july4/
The fireworks are scheduled to end at 10 p.m. and police will be working closely with Port Authority personnel to move people out of the downtown core as quickly as possible to decrease some of the past problems related to overcrowding in some areas at the end of the evening. Riders are strongly encouraged to check schedules in advance as some bus and rail routes do not operate, and most service ends early, on Sundays. Schedules can be found at www.portauthority.org/all-schedules.
Bridges are often popular vantage points for vehicles to stop and watch the fireworks. A Pennsylvania State Police helicopter will monitor from overhead to ensure traffic keeps flowing on the bridge decks, reducing congestion and the possibility for collisions.
Two River Rescue boats with Pittsburgh EMS, Police, and Fire personnel on board will be out on the rivers. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire boat will also be on the water with three firefighters.
It should also be noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural resources will close the Point State Park wharves to boat mooring on the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers on Sunday, July 4.
Motorcycle medic units with the Pittsburgh Bureau of EMS will be operating near the various viewing points in the City to more easily reach and treat patients in crowded areas.
Traditional medic units will also stage near key fireworks viewing points on Mount Washington, the North Side, and Downtown.
One of the things they will be watching out for is heat-related ailments. Temperatures are forecast to be in the 80’s with mostly sunny skies on Independence Day.
Dr. Donald Yealy, Chief Medical Officer with UPMC, says the most important thing to remember is that everyone’s body is a heat generator and we have to learn how to dissipate, or get rid of heat.
“Things that either increase the amount of heat we are making or decrease our ability to get rid of the heat will put us at risk for having a complication, whether that is heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” says Yealy.
“We become dehydrated from not drinking enough fluids or drinking the wrong fluids…alcohol is the wrong fluid as it goes out quickly. Certain medications can make us prone to either dehydration or less responsive to heat stresses. Those are things that either make us lose fluids or impair our ability to respond to heat.”
The Public Safety Director would also like to remind people of the dangers that consumer grade fireworks pose.
“Although sales of consumer fireworks are legal, they remain a fire hazard and a safety concern. As a reminder, fireworks are not allowed in Point State Park or any City park. In addition, the use of any fireworks, even those that are legal, are prohibited within 150 feet of any structure,” said Hissrich.
“And please, remember your pets. Fireworks can startle pets, which are more sensitive to loud noises and flashing lights, sometimes causing them to run away or hide.”
In an effort to curb the illegal use of fireworks, the Fireworks Task Force will continue with its enforcement efforts until July 5.
And finally, although the situation has vastly improved, the pandemic is not over. Those who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a mask. Even though Sunday's activities are primarily outdoors, the virus still poses a risk to those who are not inoculated with one of CDC-approved, COVID-19 vaccines.
“This weekend will always involve a certain amount of congregation. That’s what people do during holidays. If you’re fully vaccinated, that’s not a concern. But if you’re not, please wear that mask. The COVID-19 virus is still here with us,” says Dr. Yealy.
From all of us at Public Safety, we wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday weekend!