Macy*s Fireworks…Elderly and Disabled Need Not Attend (unless you don’t mind watching from 52nd St, apparently)


Since I was in NYC this 4th, I went down to see the Macys fireworks, hoping for a nice, festive occasion, and as usual got there really early so I could get a good position. I had my toys to play with (tatting, paperfolding) and a cloth to sit on…as usual. I had missed last two years’ shows, so I wasn’t really prepared for the horrible sight lines you get on the Hudson. The show was moved from the East River to the Hudson two or three years ago. But OK, we’ll deal with that. Then, at about 6:30, the police started telling people they couldn’t sit on blankets. Mind you, this was about three hours before the show was scheduled to begin. So everyone put away their blankets and sat on the pavement, or folded them into tiny cushions…bang go the picnics. If that wasn’t bad enough, about 40 minutes later, the police started announcing (even yelling through bullhorns) that no sitting was allowed, although they didn’t seem to bother the few who brought lawn chairs. ( Mind you, I called the Macy*s “Hotline” when I got home and found that the instructions included a line that asked the public not to bring blankets or lawn chairs, but nowhere did I find this repeated in printed information!) So for over two hours people were expected to stand…including small children, women with babies, elderly people. People were shifting from foot to foot, taking off shoes, complaining about their backs, and at least one person who told a cop she couldn’t stand for two hours was threatened!

I was going to have to go home…My foot gets uncomfortable if I stand too long, and I am having an operation next week to repair a torn meniscus, I went to ask to speak to a supervisor…there wasn’t one there, but the cop I spoke to told me “you can sit.” So I did, and eventually, the most of the crowd rebelled and sat down. By then, the lady with the baby on her hip and another clutching her skirt had given up and gone home. Gotta say, it felt like some sort of weird detention pen, not like a 4th of July celebration. Some people from Boston were telling me how much fun the Boston show is, compared to NYC’s.

So this is my last NYC Macy*s fireworks, at least until they move it to the East River again…next year, back to Washington DC!

Macys Fireworks viewing area

This is where I was, not long before the police decided it was too crowded for people to relax on blankets. You can see how how for some people the view would be blocked.

macys fireworks

People resting their feet.

Macys Fireworks 2012

The hoi poloi vs the privileged: Looking through the shoulders of two guys in our holding pen, out towards the riverside views enjoyed by the privileged.

Sorry this is such a gripe, but it seems so unfair that people who can’t stand for long periods can’t enjoy this event, and Macy’s doesn’t even give us fair warning! Why not say…”Only for people who can stand for 2 1/2 hours.”

Oh, and yes, I did see later that they had reserved DeWitt Clinton Park for the elderly and disabled, but many people who are not certified as disabled still can’t stand for 2 hours or more!

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2 comments so far

  1. John J Coghlan on

    I am elderly and disabled and I am no longer able to go to these events. The problem is not Macy’s or any other sponsors of these events. It is the New York Police Department. I have lived in New York for 50 years. We used to have events with crowds just as large as today. People were courteous and no body steeped on anybody and crowds moved in an orderly way. The problems started when the police introduced their crowd management programs. They erect a maze of little fenced in areas. They tell people you can’t sit, you can’t stand, you have to keep moving. They make you walk four blocks to cross the street. They have you walking around in circles for an hour trying to get to a very close location.

    I was taking pictures in the street. A police officer told me you can’t take pictures in the street. If you want to take pictures go over there on the other side of the fence and you can take all the pictures you want. I start to take a picture on other side of the fence and another police officer says this is crowded wide walk you can’t stop and take pictures here. If you want to take pictures I would suggest you go out in the street. Instances like this occur non stop. Crowds of nice people who went out to relax and have fun and enjoy them selves wind up being herded around in the narrow police corrals, insulted and mistreated. By the end of the event everyone is so angry at being pushed around and abused that they start becoming nasty to one another. Your headline, “Elderly and Disabled Need Not Attend” was good advice. I am 70 years and have some physical problems, I am simply not physically capable of endorsing the New York Police Department. If the police were not there I would be able to go and enjoy these events as I always have

    • fractralfoot on

      I felt a bit nutty writing that post…so I’m glad someone else concurs with my experience…though I would rather we didn’t have to complain at all! This year I am going to a fireworks show somewhere else, where I won’t be yelled at for having to sit down!


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