NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – COVID-19 has impacted virtually every aspect of life this year, including New Year’s Eve celebrations, but the threat of the virus won’t stop people from setting off fireworks.

“What we’ve seen over the past few years, even before COVID, was increasingly numbers of people having fireworks shows in front of their house or in their backyards,” said Mesquite City Manager Cliff Keheley.

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However, those personal fireworks are illegal in the city limits of Mesquite, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and others.

Mesquite has an aggressive plan to target hotspots for fireworks and celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve.

“We’ve got about three years of data to show where those calls typically come from, so we’re going to position officers specifically on those streets and in those areas,” Keheley said.

There will also be a new phone bank staffed with city employees to take calls and help dispatch officers.

Keheley says it’s important that residents provide an address when they call 972-204-4888 to report fireworks and 911 to report gunfire or the location of a driver they suspect is driving while intoxicated.

The Arlington Police Department is also encouraging the public to report fireworks to the non-emergency dispatch line, which is (817) 274-4444, to keep the 911 lines open for real emergencies.

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In Dallas, the police and fire departments are sending out teams to quickly respond to complaints.

“We’ll have inspectors that will be riding out with our officers in our seven respective patrol divisions, and they’ll be taking enforcement action regarding fireworks, as well as random gunfire,” said Deputy Chief Rick Watson with DPD.

Setting off fireworks or discharging a weapon where it’s illegal could set you back a few thousand dollars in fines or even come with jail time. First responders encourage people to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

“We are one of the few fireworks shows that are left in the world,” said Matt Peterson, the creative director at Melrose Pyrotechnics, which designed Reunion Tower’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show. “There are some happening, but there are so many that have been canceled because they require the gathering of so many people.”

The show can be streamed online from the comfort of home or safely seen from multiple locations in Dallas. “Wherever they can see the tower, they’ll be able to watch it,” Peterson said.

All the elements of the show are weather-proofed for rain or snow as well. Peterson said the only thing that could cause a show delay would be extreme high winds in the area.

Workers with the show say they’re excited to give people a chance to ring in the New Year with a timeless tradition.

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Caroline Vandergriff