Darkness will rule the skies of Brooklyn this Fourth of July because Macy’s has decided to hold its annual fireworks extravaganza on the distant banks of the Hudson River rather than its usual location along the East River.
The retail giant announced on Monday that the launching pads for the colorful fireworks have been relocated to a stretch of the Hudson between 23rd and 50th streets — a spot that’s not only beyond Brooklyn’s horizon, but also farther north than usual.
The change will hinder views from the Columbia Street Waterfront District all the way to Greenpoint — and inland to Fort Greene, Park Slope and beyond, neighborhoods that have been dazzled by the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air.
The company said it made the change to honor Henry Hudson, who explored his namesake waterway 400 years ago, but Brooklynites were upset about losing their front row seats to the patriotic spectacular.
“Not having a view … of fireworks is definitely disappointing,” said Susan Fox, whose rooftop Independence Day parties at her 12th Street home are the stuff of Park Slope legend.
But Fox, who runs the indispensable Park Slope Parents online message board, said she’d keep the parties alive, much like General George Washington did with the Continental Army during the indomitable winter at Valley Forge.
Brooklyn’s politicians reacted angrily to Macy’s desertion of the East River. Borough President Markowitz issued a call, which Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) seconded, for the retailer to at least deploy some of its fireworks filled barges to the East River.
“I urge Macy’s to split the show so that Brooklyn residents are not robbed of this important tradition and influx of economic activity during this moment of economic uncertainty,” Yassky said.
Markowitz reminded Macy’s, which has a location on the bustling Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn no less, that the borough is just as linked to Henry Hudson as that river to the west.
“New York City’s own ‘Breukelen’ was among the earliest Dutch settlements in New Netherland,” he said. “I urge Macy’s to relocate half of the Hudson River barges to the East River so that ‘Breukelenites’ … can join revelers on Manhattan’s West Side and in New Jersey in celebrating our nation’s independence and this historic quadricentennial.”
The switch has also fizzled the spirits of businesses that get a surge on the Fourth.
“That’s possibly our busiest day,” said Randy Valdiviezo, who works in the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory on a pier at the end of Old Fulton Street. “It’s insane. The pier is packed.”
Macy’s said its pyrotechnic display would still be somewhat visible in Brooklyn, thanks to a plan to deploy far more high-level fireworks — mini-bombs that will reach 1,000 feet — this year.
The company would not promise that this year’s move from Brooklyn would be corrected in 2010.
“Every year we look at the show and the design of the show really determines the location,” Orlando Veras, a company spokesman, told The Brooklyn Paper.