QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) – An air quality alert issued for the New York City area through midnight on Friday has now been lifted by state authorities.
That change has left organizers and participants of the many outdoor events planned for this weekend around the region breathing more easily.
The Governor’s Ball, one of the city’s largest annual outdoor concert events, had kept many of its 150,000 attendees on pins and needles because of the hazardous air quality that the Tri-state region has seen this week.
“I thought it would be canceled,” said Grace Romano who attended the concert in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, with her friends. “It looks pretty good. The air quality is actually pretty good.”
She was among many people at the Flushing location who’d kept their eyes on the air quality forecast.
“We were tracking it at first,” said Noam Spevack, who’d come to the three-stage venue from Long Island, with his friend Jeremy Malaga. “Today it’s looking a lot better.”
In agreement with that statement were comments from New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, M.D., Ph.D.
He was on the PIX11 Morning News on Friday talking about changes to the health warnings that his agency had put out, and how they were revolving.
“Air quality has improved today,” Vasan said.
“We’re gonna adjust our recommendations today,” he said, noting that there needed to be a change in warning status since much cleaner air was moving into the city.
He stated the Department of Health was monitoring the air quality.
The Governor’s Ball, named after its first venue, on Governor’s Island, in 2011, was not the only major outdoor event that was closely monitoring air quality status. The Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Belmont Stakes are both on tap for this weekend, with the latter event facing significant restrictions if air quality didn’t improve.
The last race of the Triple Crown was under orders from Governor Kathy Hochul to cancel if the air quality index was 200 or more, that reading is considered very unhealthy by EPA standards.
However, on Friday, Elmont, the community on the Nassau County-Queens County line, was recording air quality rated good. It’s coded green on the EPA’s website and is the healthiest air quality.
At Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where the Governor’s Ball was getting underway on Friday, the EPA had rated the air as good as well.
“If it was like yellowish, or like orange,” said Nicole Martillo, a concertgoer at the Governor’s Ball. “I think I would bring a mask, I would still be coming.”
One of the co-founders of the Governor’s Ball, Tom Russell said that he’d had plenty to worry about in putting together the massive, three-day music festival. Adding that an air quality emergency was not something he and his team had bargained for.
He noted he and his team were ready to make changes.
“Green is my favorite color,” Russell said, referring to the EPA air quality rating chart.
Earlier on Wednesday the air quality was up to maroon color status, hazardous air quality. Russell said the status had improved to green, with good air quality, which was a relief.
“We’re just happy that we’re there,” he stated.