New Year’s Eve was far more explosive than the Prague authorities wanted as some revelers defied an edict banning fireworks displays.
The Czech capital’s annual fireworks display was canceled again for the third year running, this time because of financial constraints and not COVID-19.
But local authorities had also outlawed people from setting off their own pyrotechnics near the center of the city because of environmental and noise pollution concerns, threatening hefty fines on anyone who went against the ban.
The police reportedly issued multiple fines before giving up after midnight. Around a dozen people were arrested, one for attacking a police officer, and paramedics responded to 81 calls over revelry-related injuries, according to local media.
On Ve Smečkách street, near the central train station, more than 30 buildings’ windows were smashed by fireworks. The roof of a supermarket caught fire.
“The ban on pyrotechnics in the center of Prague did not work,” ran the headline in a national newspaper on Monday.
New Year’s Eves are normally raucous in the Czech Republic, though locals say it’s less like a warzone than yesteryear.
Few people nowadays set off bangers in champagne bottles, yet fireworks are cheap and the more dangerous pyrotechnics, some supposed only for professionals, are relatively easy to come by.
Austrians and Germans frequently venture over the border to stock up. The Czech Republic was the world’s seventh-biggest exporter of fireworks in 2019.
This year, however, authorities in many cities and towns wanted quieter festivities. Several banned fireworks displays and cautioned individuals not to set off their own equipment.