Under normal circumstances, this is the time of year when people gear up for backyard barbecues and outdoor fireworks displays celebrating the Fourth of July.

Amid novel coronavirus restrictions and fears about a return to rising numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, this year will be different. Local municipalities, as well as Seneca Niagara Casino, have canceled their plans for public Independence Day celebrations.

That hasn’t stopped people anywhere in Niagara County, and many other parts of the country, from creating fireworks displays of their own.

The trouble is, the aim of these “shows” tends to be getting more boom for the buck than flooding the skies with colorful twinkling lights in celebration of America’s independence.

In Niagara Falls and Lockport, for weeks now, officials have been fielding complaints from residents whose children and pets are annoyed, often late at night, by the alarming boom of high-powered fireworks that are designed to make a great deal of noise. Those who are setting off the fireworks seem not to care much at all about their neighbors’ feelings or current laws on the books that bar the use of most high-powered fireworks in New York state.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that nightly fireworks are becoming a nuisance across the country, from Connecticut to California.

The story posed two questions of interest locally: “Why the fascination with fireworks, and where is everybody getting the goods?”

Theories abound. Some suggest it may have something to do with people wanting to blow off steam in the wake of police brutality protests. Others believe it may have something to do with frustration over continued coronavirus restrictions.

Whatever the reason, local officials are taking note. The Erie County District Attorney issued a press release last week reminding residents that individuals who use illegal fireworks can be prosecuted.

In Lockport and Niagara Falls, officials have also reminded residents of the need to follow the rules and the possibility that those who continue to violate the rules will face punishment.

It’s sad that it has had to come to this. People should not have to be warned to refrain from an act that, at its worst, inflicts distress on babies, young children and dogs.

The Fourth of July is traditionally a time of celebration in America, as it should be. These amateur fireworks displays and random explosions have nothing to do with the holiday. They are just disruptive and annoying.

Everyone has been frustrated by the astonishing changes in the American way of living since the start of 2020. Randomly blowing off M-80s in city lots and street corners isn’t helping.

Sadly, the perpetrators may well have to be charged and convicted to send a message and keep the peace for the vast majority of residents who respect the rules.

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