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rockets red glare

It's June. Which means any day now, I will start hearing the popping and booming of fireworks, both big and small, around the neighborhood.

image from fireworks.comThey start early around here, amassing their motherload of pyrotechnics weeks in advance of the Fourth of July. It's kids, mostly, but plenty of them are grown kids, 30 year old men who still get off on lighting mats of firecrackers two or three at a time until the neighbors think they are under seige.

I never understood the appeal of plain old firecrackers. You light it, you throw it, it goes boom. How thrilling. There's not much to do with a small firecracker unless you are like the kids I grew up with, who used them to frighten frogs or to stick down my shorts, fuse lite and sparkling.

And there are those inventive folks who will put M80's in garbage cans, rocking everyone on the block out of their sleep, fearing for their lives. This was pre-9/11. Can you imagine what the sound of an explosion echoing in a metal garbage can will do to a person's nerves now?

Firework shows, on the other hand, are a different story. I know I can have my breath taken away by a shower of color falling from the sky. It's what brings people out on their lawns on the Fourth of July, what brings them to parks and beaches, willing to stretch their necks for hours just to be awestruck by the beauty of the fireworks, the swelling of the patriotic music, and the pride that comes from being an American on Independence Day.

Too bad people may have to find another way to celebrate this year. In our post-9/11 world, everything is a danger, everything is a potential weapon, including fireworks meant only to grace the sky with colors. We have regulated ourselves into boredom in an effort to keep terrorists at bay. I don't know any terrorists, but it doesn't take knowing one to realize that they aren't going to use Roman Candles and Bottlerockets to take out America.

Even if the larger, professional displays are smothered by needless regulations, there will always be the neighborhood displays, that guy from around the corner who drove down to Georgia to get a trunkful of whatever they were selling at the fireworks flea market; the cop around the corner who mysteriously comes home with a box of fireworks of Fourth of July. The skies above my home are never dull on that holiday. We pull chairs up on the lawn and ooh and ahhh our way through night, until the streets are covered with spent shells and torn paper and the beer is gone.

That's what fireworks are about. The displays, the colors, the ability to make you suck in your breath in awe. It's not about noise making or scaring the dog next door. It's not setting your lawn on fire or tearing your cousin's garbage can to pieces. If that's what you have in mind, and you live in my neighborhood, let it be known I will not put up with it this year. First person to set off a mat of firecrackers in my hearing distance will end up with a lit bottle rocket down his pants.

Comments

Beautifully put.

Taking advantage of the lax gunpowder laws in the Palmetto State:

Pyromaniac's Ball

Last year's arsenal(there's a CAR behind all that ordnance)

sorry, links/archive is effed up.

2nd Post

One thing that is great about Florida, is you can buy really cool fireworks at the supermarket. No more having to take the Holland Tunnel into Chinatown to be mugged by every guy with a pack of firecrackers to sell. No worrying that some prick cop from Jersey City will pull you over and confiscate the $250 worth of goods you just bought to take home to his family.

You just plunk down $39.95 for a nice big box of goodies, find a nice open area and go to town.

You can get the REALLY good stuff at a fireworks store by signing some kind of letter stating that you are going to use the stuff to scare birds or something away from your farm.

When I was a kid I had a friend whose dad was a cop. My friend had a seemingly endless supply of fireworks, some of which had stickers that said "EVIDENCE: NEWTON POLICE DEPARTMENT."

No legitimate use for firecrackers? Obviously you're a city girl, Michele. When I was a kid, every summer around the 4th at my grandparents' farm I spent day after day blowing up ant dens, staging mock battles with army men and blowing up a variety of small other small objects, all with Black Cat firecrackers.

On the Fourth, we'd all take chairs out on the driveway and watch the town's show (the farm's 1.5 miles south of town), then we'd go ahead and do our own display. There were almost always a bunch of fireflies around, which added to the magical nature of the experience. I did accidentally set some wheat stubble on fire once or twice, but no major damage was ever done. Definitely never destroyed any trash cans. ;-)

I can see where it's problematic having people shooting stuff off in a large city (though I think the amount of actual damage gets greatly exaggerated by the media). Just don't make the leap from outlawing fireworks in cities to outlawing them in general. It's one of our fundamental freedoms.

My girlfriend would let her dogs out in the fenced yard all day, and clean up after them once a week That bag was the only one in her trash can when someone dropped a quarter-stick in there. It took her hours to clean the evidence off the neighbor's garage.

If our nation is going to let Big Brother take away the firecrackers and bottle rockets and Roman candles and sparklers, in the name of "public safety", then how appropriate it is that the raucous July 4th that we grew up with is no more.