For municipalities that wanted to ban the sale and use of sparkling devices, the wheels of the state legislature turned too slow for this Fourth of July.
Sparkling devices, defined by the state as “ground based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke … hand held or mounted on a base or spike and be limited in sizes that range from 1 to 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition,” are legal to buy and use for adults in Orange County.
After sparkling devices were banned as part of a list of fireworks for many years, New York allowed counties to take sparkling devices out of that category, and in April last year, sparkling devices became legal in the county.
This law created a problem for municipalities however, said Middletown Alderman Gerald Kleiner, because it did not allow them to opt out of the legislation if they wanted to.
In Middletown, people were confused by the difference between sparkling devices and fireworks, he said, and it became nearly impossible to crack down on violations.
“It seemed to me last year like half the people in Middletown were setting off fireworks, and the other half were calling the police complaining,” he said.
“The police told me last Fourth of July they couldn’t drive down Lafayette Avenue, the smoke was too thick.”
Sen. John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther sponsored legislation to give municipalities in Orange County a choice, and while the legislation passed in both the Assembly and the Senate, it has yet to be signed by the governor.
The state police remind New Yorkers that it is illegal to give sparkling devices to anyone under 18, even where sparklers have been legalized.
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