My daughter and I took a trip to Berlin at the very end of 2022 into the first week of the year and we had a great time! For once, I was the person tagging along and not working, which made for a nice change, since she was there to do research at a local university library.
We arrived on New Year’s Eve – which oddly enough was a less expensive flight option than arriving the day before or after. I had read that the German government prohibited fireworks across the entire country for the last 2 years due to the pandemic, partially in order to reserve first responder/hospital space for COVID. At the time, I thought maybe that was a bit of an overreach but then the sun went down and things got wild.
Folks, I have no idea if Berliners had saved up 2 years’ worth of fireworks or if this was just their normal thing but holy crap – people were setting off all sorts of explosives all over the city. We were in the city center, not far from the Brandenburg Gate, which is definitely an urban area and I have never seen such a thing. I don’t know of any major US city (or anywhere else for that matter) that allows people to blow things up in the middle of the streets like this. Fireworks were hitting buildings, almost hitting people, and were exploding just over the heads of the folks in the crowd. Police were on scene – at one point, at least 6 police cars pulled up on the street next to us – but they were just watching. Plenty of ambulances and firetrucks were out that night as well with the sound of sirens echoing in the streets along with the whistles, booms, and rat-a-tat-tat of the fireworks.
It was definitely very memorable, that’s for sure! At the end of the evening, I re-evaluated my initial response to the previous fireworks ban and decided that the government made a wise decision. 🙂
The aftermath looked like the scene of a riot with empty fireworks containers left literally on fire in the streets and in front of subway entrances, as well as smoldering or burnt remains littered all around. I have to give the city credit though – by the next morning, most of the debris was cleared.