Fireworks upset some Dayton area residents. Others think it’s no big deal

Fireworks complaints in the Dayton area have increased recently, which comes at a time when state lawmakers are considering allowing Ohioans to set off some types of fireworks at any time of day or night.

Some East Dayton residents say they are fed up with fireworks that have gone off almost every night for weeks, disrupting their sleep, scaring companion animals and possibly stressing out people with PTSD, like veterans and gunshot survivors.

“It is really loud and they sound like M-80s … they rattle my windows,” said Sharon Cross, 59, who lives in the Historic Inner East area. “It’s really bad.”

Cross, other local residents and some elected leaders say they oppose a proposed state law that would permit fireworks use in Ohio, saying fireworks are annoying and perilous.

“If state law changes, we will pass laws to make it illegal, because it’s dangerous because … we are a dense city,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

But some neighbors say fireworks are wholesome entertainment for kids and families, especially since people have been cooped up at home and have limited leisure options because of the pandemic.

MORE: Ohio House votes to allow fireworks any day or time

Some East Dayton residents have been shooting off what seem to be professional-grade fireworks basically every night since a couple weeks before Memorial Day, said Cross, who has lived on Linden Avenue for 18 years.

Loud booms and explosions sometimes last until the early morning hours, and neighbors have reported the illegal activities to police, but very little has been done to eliminate the nuisance, she said.

“It’s very disruptive and you can’t get any sleep,” Cross said.

Under Ohio law, people can buy consumer or 1.4g fireworks in the state, but aren't allowed to set them off. All fireworks purchased in Ohio must be transferred out of the state within 48 hours, though many buyers live in the state and don't do that.

A new bill that passed the Ohio House would allow people to set off some consumer fireworks on their property at any time or day.

In the last month, colorful bursts have lit up the night sky above homes and properties along Torrence Street, Huffman Avenue, Xenia Avenue, East Third Street, East Fifth Street and other parts of the area.

On Sunday and Monday nights, fireworks were shot off sporadically that could be heard miles away, including in downtown, the Oregon District and the South Park neighborhoods.

“They wake me up,” said Darlene Griffin, 66, who lives on Linden Avenue. “I can’t go back to sleep — I toss and turn.”

“I heard boom, boom, boom,” she said. “I thought man, can’t they quit it, because I need to sleep.”

MORE: Dayton cancels annual Lights in Flight Fireworks Festival

The loud explosions might trigger stress or frighten people who live in the area with PTSD, and they definitely terrorize cats and dogs in the neighborhood, Cross said.

Multiple Dayton residents have complained on social media websites including Facebook and NextDoor about the noise, with some saying the explosions are so loud they shake their windows, doors, cabinets or walls.

Cross said she opposes legislation that would allow people to use fireworks in the state. She thinks it would result in more frequent fireworks use, which would be very bad news for neighborhoods.

“I think it’s going to continue, until we put a stop to it,” Cross said. “Instead of thinking of the few, think of the majority.”

But some residents say they don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Greg Mates, 53, who lives on Huffman Avenue, said he knows someone who shoots off fireworks in the neighborhood, but they are fun and neighborhood kids who don’t have a lot to do right now because of the coronavirus threat and shutdown like the colorful spectacle.

“It’s mostly for the kids around here,” he said. “They clean up the mess afterwards.”

On Monday night, kids and their families were hanging out on porches and standing on the street to try to watch fireworks light up the sky.

Mates said fireworks are noisy, but they don’t go on too late and a little noise is nothing compared to the area’s problems with drugs, violence and crime.

Stephanie McGovern, 35, who has lived on Huffman Avenue for nine years, said fireworks are set off nearby, within a couple of blocks, and can be loud.

But her kids think they are amusing.

“They like watching them,” she said. “They are all around.”

She said trash in people’s yards is much more of a concern and nuisance.

Illegal fireworks season began early this year, likely because COVID-19 has canceled vacation plans and limited leisure and social activities and interactions, Whaley said.

“It’s particularly bad this year I think because everyone is home,” Whaley said. “These are no joke and there’s a reason why they are illegal and they will continue to be illegal in the city of Dayton.”

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