Fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Mendenhall Valley on New Year's Eve 2020. New rules govern the use of personal fireworks in the Capital City this July 4 holiday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Here’s what you need to know ahead of celebrating the Fourth of July

Know the rules for masks and fireworks

After a year without July 4 celebrations and a forecast for perfect weather, this weekend’s festivities promise loads of summer fun.

However, officials want people to stay on the right side of safety practices and local ordinances.

Vaxx up or mask up

According to a local ordinance in the City and Borough of Juneau, individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks in crowded outdoor events, like a parade or other event where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.

According to a news release from the city, “this requirement — part of CBJ’s COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies — applies to all children ages 2-11, as well as anyone ages 12 and up who is not fully vaccinated.”

Children under 12 are not yet authorized to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“A portion of our population that loves parades is not protected against COVID-19. So if you are unvaccinated and enjoying the festivities, please mask up. Share the joy and the celebration, not COVID,” Bartlett Regional Hospital Infection Preventionist Charlee Gribbon said in the city’s news release.

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Know the rules for fireworks

People planning personal pyrotechnics displays for the holiday out the new rules governing the use of fireworks in the City and Borough of Juneau.

A recently passed ordinance outlines when and where certain types of fireworks can be used and generally bans loud, mortar-style fireworks in Juneau’s neighborhoods. Fireworks may be used on Saturday, July 3 between 10 a.m. and midnight and on Sunday, July 4 from midnight to 1 a.m. and between 10 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.

A city news release explains that the ordinance categorizes fireworks into three types – concussive, holiday and allowable and outlines how each can be used.

— Concussive fireworks, such as mortars, can be used outside the fire service area on private property during specific hours around New Year’s and Fourth of July, or outside the Roaded Service Area on private property year-round during certain hours. According to the city’s news release, the fire service area extends from the end of Thane Road to Cohen Drive; out to the North Douglas boat launch and up to the houses on Fish Creek Road; out to the end of Sandy Beach on Douglas; all of Lemon Creek; and all of the Mendenhall Valley. Concussive fireworks are not authorized within these boundaries.

— Holiday fireworks, like Roman Candles, Black Cats, and bottle rockets, can be used on private property anywhere during specific hours around New Year’s and Fourth of July, or outside the fire service area on private property year-round during certain hours.

— Allowable fireworks, like cone fountains, wheels, and illuminating torches, can be used on private property anywhere during specific hours around New Year’s and Fourth of July and year-round during certain hours.

Fireworks can not be used on public property, such as parks or piers.

CBJ adopts new fireworks rules

The ordinance allows for a $250 fine for the first offense and a $500 fine and a mandatory court appearance for the second and subsequent offenses.

In addition, CBJ requests that residents keep their neighbors and local pets in mind when using fireworks.

“Fireworks can create loud, sometimes startling noise, which can have an unfavorable impact on people and pets within hearing range. Please keep in mind that the use of fireworks in the community offers some unique challenges. Juneau’s topography results in loud sounds reflecting off of mountains or water, and sound often travels farther than intended,” reads the city’s release.

Fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Mendenhall Valley on New Year’s Eve 2020. New rules govern the use of personal fireworks in the Capital City this July 4 holiday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Mendenhall Valley on New Year’s Eve 2020. New rules govern the use of personal fireworks in the Capital City this July 4 holiday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

On the water

The Coast Guard asks boaters not to use flares as fireworks and to report accidental flare discharges via VHF radio or phone to prevent unnecessary search and rescue efforts and to save valuable resources for mariners in distress.

“When we see or get a report of a flare, the Coast Guard is launching boats and aircraft to respond,” said Capt. Mike Frawley, incident management chief, 17th Coast Guard District, in a news release on Monday. “If a flare is inadvertently discharged, letting the Coast Guard know is the absolute right course of action.”

According to the release the Coast Guard responds to thousands of reports of flare sightings each year, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in personnel and equipment costs.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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