NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio set off fireworks after announcing plans to stage the annual Macy’s Fourth of July celebration this year.
It came just days after he cancelled all other public events in May and June.
The rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air: Mayor de Blasio wants July 4, 2020 to be a blast, not a virus-induced bust.
“Especially in the middle of this crisis, we’re going to take that moment to appreciate what we’re all doing together to fight this disease back,” de Blasio said. “The absence of a celebration would be very damning… it would hurt the morale of New Yorkers.”
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De Blasio is defending his decision to work with Macy’s to find some way to let the annual fireworks display go forward, even as he cancelled all public events for May and June, including the 50th annual Pride March and the Puerto Rican Day and Salute to Israel parades.
“There’s many other important celebrations and gatherings, but this one is truly universal and is something that we should not go without,” he said Thursday.
Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholsale and Department Store Union told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer he’s concerned about social distancing dangers and whether it’s right for the company to spend millions on the fireworks display when tens of thousands of its employees nationwide have been furloughed.
“I disagree strongly with the mayor,” Applebaum said. “#hat Macy’s is really trying to do is use New York as a backdrop for a national televised commercial. I would hope the mayor would understand that Macy’s workers are in need.”
“I don’t think it’s an ‘either-or.’ Macy’s put aside the resources to provide this celebration, they’re committed to doing it for New York City. I respect them for that,” de Blasio said. “I clearly want to make sure their workers get all the support possible. But let’s face it, that goes beyond the question of Macy’s – that goes back to the federal government providing working people with a way to get through this crisis.”
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Queens councilman Daniel Dromm says it’s unfair to the LGBTQ community, which can’t hold its annual Pride parade.
“He’s defending it, saying it’s important for people to celebrate the Fourth of July as a national holiday,” Kramer said.
“Well, the Fourth of July is in July, but he cancelled the Pride Parade, which is on June 28th, six days before. So I don’t understand why one can happen and the other can’t,” Dromm said.
“It can be a be a message of hope as we celebrate the Fourth of July with patriotism,” said councilman Ben Kallos.
The pandemic will determine how New Yorkers get to see the fireworks.
“Marcia, if it’s a situation where you really can’t have any crowds at all, then we’ll create something that people can appreciate on television, people can appreciate from their rooftops maybe. We’ll figure it out,” he said. “If it’s something where they can be modest crowds with social distancing, we’ll figure that out too.”
The mayor says it’s too soon to know if the NYPD will be needed to enforce social distancing at viewing spots where crowds have flocked in the past.
Earlier in his press conference, de Blasio said the latest indicators show the coronavirus is still “alive and well and living in New York City.” He cited 2,519 new cases and 320 new deaths.
“[The indicators] tell us there’s progress and there’s still real work to be done. They tell us don’t give an inch here, do not relax, do not let this disease back in the door. They tell us about the power of social distancing and shelter in place.
“They tell us that it has been smart to postpone those big events, to only have essential workers out and keep non-essential businesses closed. They certainly tell us still – it’s sad but – we have to keep our schools closed for the rest of the school year,” he continued. “They tell us we have to be smart and careful.”
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He also cautioned against the president’s calls to “liberate states” and the rush to reopen the economy.
“Liberate means being free – being free from danger, having the security of knowing you can live your life. You know what? If we don’t protect people’s health, we’re not going to be liberated,” he said. “If – because of political slogans, or political agendas or more focus on corporations and the stock market than human beings – if there’s some effort to ‘liberate’ that forgets about people and their families, and their health and their safety, it will not only backfire, it will set us back by months and months.”