The fireworks festival “Vilnius fejerija”, which will be held in Vilnius this Saturday, has caused outrage among residents. There is concern that the noise caused by fireworks will remind people who have fled Ukraine living in the capital of the horrors of war, attention is also drawn to the damage to the environment and animals. Vilnius municipality, although it claims not to support the festival, nevertheless granted it permission. The organizers of the show themselves call the loudly expressed criticism a fashion cry, and the organized protest actions are not afraid.
Already this weekend, the international fireworks festival “Vilnius Fejerija” will be held in Vingis Park in the capital. The organizers of the event announce that the sky will be flooded with impressive colors and patterns of lasers and fireworks, and the best and time-tested music will sound. However, for some time now, there has been a debate in the public space about the damage caused by fireworks to animals and the environment, as well as the fact that fireworks can emotionally traumatize war refugees from Ukraine living in Vilnius.
Public activist Andrius Tapinas also criticized the event. According to him, residents should not support this festival and it should not be organized at all.
“20 thousand people officially live in Vilnius. refugees. Shots, explosions and rockets in the sky may not be a traumatic experience for everyone, but even if it reminds a hundred people of war and strengthens the post-traumatic syndrome, this is already a very serious sign that maybe we should think and abandon this festival. Or at least don’t support him with money, don’t buy tickets and don’t go, – said A. Tapinas in the program “Delfi Rytas”. – We are talking about the trauma experienced by the guests of our city, to whom we promised a peaceful life.
Organizes a protest
Due to a wave of dissatisfaction in the society, a protest “Fireworks?” is organized in Vingios Park on the day of the event. Thank you, no”. The organizers announce that the goal of the protest is to encourage the maximum reduction in the use of fireworks.
“Let’s invite all the cities of Lithuania to refuse fireworks during their celebrations. Let’s enlighten each other so that residents use pyrotechnics as little as possible. And let’s start with the fireworks festival in Vilnius, which will take place on September 24. Vingo Park will be shaken by massive explosions, the protest organizers announce. – Frightened forest animals will be forced to run as far as possible and seek safe shelter. Birds will have to leave their nests. Vilnius residents living in the neighborhood will sit hugging frightened children and frightened pets. Upon hearing the explosions, Ukrainians living here will cover their backs and fall to the ground, trying to avoid incoming bombs. And everyone else will simply breathe in airborne pollutants. All this is because of a commercial event.”
For its part, the Vilnius city municipality claims that it does not support the fireworks festival, but it still gave permission for it, even though it promised last year that it would no longer allow such events to take place.
“Vilnius will no longer issue permits for events during which powerful fireworks are planned, and the citizens of Vilnius themselves, guests of the city, companies and organizations of the capital city are invited to contribute – to abandon dangerous and pollution-increasing fireworks during the holidays, and instead choose other, non-dangerous ways to celebrate special occasions,” added the city municipality announced last winter.
Against the Green Deal
Ieva Budraitė, an expert of the Institute of Green Politics, does not hesitate to criticize the municipality and the festival that will be held on the weekend, inviting residents to participate in the organized protest action.
“One can argue for a long time whether pyrotechnics are beautiful or not. However, what should not be ignored is the fact that the duty of every municipality is to guarantee a safe and healthy environment for each of its residents, – writes the chairperson of the Lithuanian Green Party in a press release. – Even more. Lithuania, like all the countries of the European Union, has committed to follow the path of the Green Course, which means, among other things, the aspiration to significantly reduce air, soil and water pollution and guarantee the protection of biological diversity. How does the mass use of fireworks fit in with these goals?’
I. Budraitė draws attention to the mixtures of various chemical substances used in fireworks. According to her, when fireworks are released into the air, the concentration of solid particles increases by several to several dozen times, and the remaining unburned components of fireworks reach the soil and are later washed into surface or groundwater by rain. Solid particles directly harm people’s health, the expert claims – they cause various respiratory diseases, especially in children, the elderly and people with chronic diseases.
I. Budraitė also notices that fireworks cause noise pollution.
“A sound of about 70 decibels is considered annoying and affects health. Meanwhile, research conducted by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that fireworks can emit a sound of 100-115 decibels. If a person can still protect himself from the sound by wearing headphones or plugging his ears, animals are powerless in this position. Both wild and domestic animals, when they hear sudden explosions, experience stress, fear, their orientation in space may be disturbed, they start to wander when they are scared, and they may even die if they encounter an obstacle”, says I. Budraitė.
The organizers were not afraid of criticism
On his part, Gytis Lagunavičius, the organizer of “Vilniaus fejerijas”, does not see any problems. In response to Saturday’s protest, he says he is happy that we live in a country where people can protest, and the indignation heard in the public space, according to the interviewer, is just a desire to show off.
“Only part of the public expressed dissatisfaction, and a much larger part shrugs their shoulders and doesn’t really understand what the public and politicians are doing here,” says the organizer of the event, which has been taking place in Vilnius for the fourteenth year. – Everything was fine for 13 years, and suddenly, in the fourteenth year, the world turned upside down. It doesn’t happen that way. Here it is simply a fashion statement of a separate group of people who are making their way up the ladder of politics or notoriety.”
The interlocutor interviewed by “Delfi” encourages people to come to the event, taking the position that residents no longer want to live in a sad mood. “All the people are tired of those horrors of war and of that mournful music,” asserts G. Lagunavičius.
According to him, Ukrainian communities are informed about the upcoming event, and some war refugees plan to participate in the festival itself.
“We communicate with Ukrainian communities and try to spread the word about the event so that all Ukrainians know what is happening,” says the interviewer. – I know a company that bought tickets for 30 Ukrainian families to our festival. I personally know the family from Kharkiv, we gave them five invitations.”