Police Blotter

VR Fireworks Keep Hamptons Skies Dark and Quiet for July 4

New legislation banning fireworks displays sends organizers scrambling for solutions.

The Hamptons Police Department will be out in force over Fourth of July weekend to make sure all local fireworks displays adhere to new “Dark and Quiet Skies” legislation passed on June 17. According to the Hamptons Municipal Board’s new law, “All local fireworks displays shall not impede upon homeowners’ right to enjoy silence and a starry sky, even on nights that are traditionally permissive of such displays. Excessive light and sound will not be tolerated under any circumstance, including holidays, such as July 4.”

Despite limited time to respond to this new law, organizers of the various Hamptons fireworks shows are finding ways continue their time-honored July 4 tradition while adhering to the rules. The 75th Annual Clam Diggers Society Fireworks in Amagansett, for example, will go forward using virtual reality headsets so visitors can still come to the beach for the event, which can now only be seen and heard through digital hardware.

“Unfortunately, this means we’ll have to charge people for the first time in 75 years,” Clam Diggers Society president Reince Davis explained on Monday. “For a nominal $10 fee, each attendee will receive a headset as they enter the beach, and they’ll return it as they leave.” Davis compared the new system with popular “quiet discos” or “silent raves,” where visitors dance and party to music only heard via headphones handed out at the door. “Additionally, with this enhanced digital experience, we can present fireworks that couldn’t possibly work in real life—so in some ways the law has forced us to do something really innovative and exciting,” Davis said. “And those who don’t want to pay for a headset can still join us on the beach and follow the same fireworks via live stream on their smartphone,” he added. Later, however, Davis admitted he’d still prefer the real thing.

Organizers of other shows, where time and available resources won’t allow for such a high-tech solution, are investing in “low impact fireworks”—a surprisingly accessible line of standard, light-the-fuse style fireworks that make little to no sound and emit just enough light to see them. Designed for the growing list of communities with dark and quiet skies laws, the packaging for Fade ‘n’ Fizzle brand low-impact fireworks explains, “With Fade ‘n’ Fizzle, you can celebrate but never offend!” The description goes on to note, “Our mortar tubes will still draw oohs and ahs without exceeding most local lumen limits or breaching the preferred 3,000-kelvin lighting spectrum, which is neither too warm nor too cool in tone.”

If the new law sticks, Davis said it’s likely all area fireworks will eventually move to VR or enhanced-reality displays. “It’s a tough transition, but over time this will actually end up being far less expensive than buying real fireworks every summer,” he pointed out. “Once the initial buy-in is out of the way, it costs next to nothing to create and upload a new show each year.”

Hamptons Police say anyone caught violating the Dark and Quiet skies legislation this season will be punished to the full extent of the law.

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