New York lifts all COVID-19 restrictions with a bang

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Fireworks display in New York Harbor marking the 70% herd immunity milestone on June 15.
Photo by Dean Moses

New Yorkers were treated to an explosion of colors over the city skyline just after dusk on Tuesday night, which officially marked the removal of all restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fireworks display overlooking the city skyline. Photo by Dean Moses

From the Brooklyn Bridge and Battery Park to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, residents of the Big Apple lined up far and wide to catch dazzling lights at the end of the 16-month tunnel. Shooting into the freshly darkened sky from the New York harbor at 9:15 p.m., the vivid display not only served as a ceremonial send-off to the coronavirus precautions now that 70% of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Governor, but it also was a symbol of gratitude lighting up the heavens with a radiant thank you to healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic.

Onlookers happily watched the display, marking a milestone in the battle against COVID-19. Photo by Dean Moses

As onlookers held each other, some kissing in celebration, while others raised their phones to record the spectacle smiling ear to ear, the feeling of relief and joy was very much abundant at the Brooklyn Promenade.

“For the day that COVID officially ends, they should do something like this every year to mark of the end of the pandemic,” fifth-grader Gabriel Kocisoea said.

View from the Brooklyn Promenade. Photo by Dean Moses

His mother, Maria, was near tears as she described the wave of emotions she felt watching the display, remembering over a year of fear, fatigue, and now, a bit of relief. She vividly recalls hearing the constant flow of ambulance trucks in March, April, and May, and then the eerily empty streets and the worrying about public transportation during the height of the virus.

“We are back alive,” Maria said, adding, “When I heard the people cheering and the cars honking, it was really, really nice. I almost cried, and when I saw Gabriel in front of me watching the fireworks, I was holding tears back. As a mother, it is really emotional because we did our best.”

Fireworks display June 15. Photo by Dean Moses

Lindsay Goldthwatie embraced her son with her husband as the trio marveled at the red, green, yellow, and blue hues shining in the sky. Her son, Max, pointed with glee exclaiming “wow” while Goldthwatie smiled at the sign of New York City conquering COVID-19.  

“I think this was great. I feel it’s a great way to say New York is back. I got kind of emotional through all we went through in the past year and half or so. So, it was nice,” Goldthwatie said.  

While the display did not bring in the same July 4th crowds, it did bring about a feel of independence from fear and from COVID-19.

Fireworks display on June 15. Photo by Dean Moses

The New York Harbor fireworks display was one of ten sites across New York State to host the grand affair. Additionally, landmarks were lit in blue and gold to salute the 70% milestone.