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See It: Fireworks Honor Essential Workers, As New York Lifts Most COVID Restrictions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It's a momentous day in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York state has lifted most COVID restrictions after hitting a 70% vaccination rate.

COVID Celebratory Fireworks
(credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office)

To celebrate the essential workers, there were fireworks displays across the state, and state assets, like bridges, were lit blue and gold. The Empire State Building was also lit blue and gold to celebrate the milestone.

"It's our way of saying thank you all across the state," Cuomo said. "I'll tell you how to honor essential workers. You get vaccinated so you don't need the essential workers again."

The following locations were lit blue and gold:

  • Empire State Building
  • One World Trade Center
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
  • Kosciuszko Bridge
  • The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
  • State Education Building
  • Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
  • State Fairgrounds - Main Gate and Expo Center
  • Niagara Falls
  • The "Franklin D. Roosevelt" Mid-Hudson Bridge
  • Grand Central Terminal - Pershing Square Viaduct
  • Albany International Airport Gateway
  • MTA LIRR - East End Gateway at Penn Station

The fireworks started at 9:15 p.m. In our area, there were displays in New York Harbor, Nyack Memorial Park and Jones Beach.

Some Jones Beach residents said they were excited for things to get back to normal.

"I'm ready. Been ready for a year and a half," one man told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

"It's been a long year," another man said. "To me, it's over, yeah, definitely. I have my shots. I'm all good."


Some people feel the celebrations may be premature, however.

"It's not over. It's still around. I mean, let's be smart, but also let's be cautious. Life's too short," one woman said.

"I'm still skeptical, but only because there's just too many people that are not vaccinated and we can get more variants, so that would be bad," another woman said.

"So you're not ready quite to celebrate yet?" Gusoff asked.

"I don't want to celebrate too early," the woman said.

Watch Carolyn Gusoff's report -- 

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reports, Tarantella Pizza in Nyack won't be increasing capacity until the owner sees customer demand for it. He's glad that the governor lifted most restrictions.

"We've been waiting for a year, and we're happy to see we're going back to normal," said owner Frank Nikolla.

A few blocks away, Santore's Famous Fireworks was setting up for Tuesday night's show.

New York is the 14th state to reach the 70% goal - the first to mark it with taxpayer-funded flash and boom.

Watch: Chopper 2 Above Fireworks Celebrations In New York -- 

Fireworks Celebrations In New York

Fireworks will be lighting up the night sky to honor essential workers as New York lifts most COVID restrictions. Watch more on CBSN New York:

Posted by CBS New York on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"Go for it! I'm all for it," said Nyack resident Robert Swift.

"Better use for the money than showing some fireworks," another person said.

More than 1,000 people took in the show at Memorial Park as bright colors and loud booms punctuated the June night.

Many watched and thought of everything New York faced over the 472 days since the pandemic began.

"A lot of people I knew are gone, so that's one of the things I really reflect on, the people that aren't here to see what's going on now," Nanuet resident Neville Moses said.

"It was a brutal year for everyone. I think that New York handled it really terrifically. I think people stepped up," Nyack resident Jane Delregno said.

The 70% vaccination milestone was reached weeks ago in Connecticut and New Jersey with little fanfare, but Cuomo has a touch of the showman.

Recall his Styrofoam mountain from a year ago or his 2017 ride across the bridge he named for his dad in a car that belonged to Franklin Roosevelt.

Tuesday, he made this dramatic pronouncement:  "Remember June 15th. Remember today. Because it is the day that New York rose again."

Ed Day is the Republican Rockland County Executive.

"We're, what, the 14th, 15th state that has hit 70%? I mean, look, it is great, don't get me wrong, we love seeing this, but it's a bit way too much showmanship," Day said.

"We're still not there yet. We still have a lot of people who aren't vaccinated," Nanuet resident Jackie Pendleton said.

Ironically, Nyack is one zip code that has yet to reach the 70% milestone for vaccinated adults.

It enjoyed fireworks in the sky tonight and will work to get more shots in arms tomorrow.

Carolyn Gusoff contributed to this report. 


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