To those that celebrate, Happy 4th of July!
I used to celebrate this holiday when I was younger, but really haven’t in the past many years.
As a kid, fireworks were legal in my town. On our street as the evening closed in, lawn chairs would be spread out on the front lawns of most of the houses and kids would be running around everywhere. Sometimes a radio could be heard in the distance.
As a child I loved the snakes.. I do not honestly know what their real names were, but you know those miniature hockey pucks that you would light and they would grow out into snake-like forms. I sure did love the smell of those too, it was sort of a sweet smoke. Of course later on in life I learned that the smell I enjoyed was toxic.
We also had the sparklers. I did not so much like those myself, they would zap my hands and I found that more annoying than anything.
As it got dark the entire street would be filled with people lighting off fireworks. That is just how it was in those days. There was an innocence about it all because it was about families bonding with each other and the neighbors. Or at least that’s how my memory feels like it was. I know time can turn the past into a sugarcoated happy place.
We had many fireworks whose names I can’t recall, but one I do remember is the ever annoying Piccolo Pete. That thing would just send off the loudest most ear busting whistle ever.
I remember very clearly the last one we’d always shoot off was the Roman Candle. That was always my mom’s favorite too. Someone would hold the candle stick straight up into the air and it would put on a much longer show than the others that we usually had.
I also remember quite clearly one year that a firework, from somewhere in the neighborhood, went into our backyard pool and it burned a large hole into the lining of the pool on the very side. I think that was my first lesson on learning how dangerous pyrotechnics are. After that, I thought about them from a viewpoint of them being more dangerous than fun.
As the years went on fireworks ceased to exist in my life, for the most part. Sometimes a little box of Pop-It’s would show up in the house – those little paper poppy things that made a small explosive pop when tossed to the ground. One of the last fireworks I ever had was a little green cardboard tank with small fireworks out of several parts of it. Back then, I opted to keep the tank because I liked tanks. I have no idea what ever happened to that thing.
Those memories are over twenty years old now. In the past twenty years many things have changed. Most towns I have lived, including my childhood town now, no longer allow regular folks to use fireworks even on the holiday. Instead, towns will put on their own fireworks show at designated locations. People will gather together to see the show, rather than make a show in their own yard.
I have been to a couple of those types of shows, and while they are impressive, fireworks just have never been A Thing for me.
Some years ago I encountered a second example of how dangerous fireworks can be. While I have seen plenty of examples of fires and other things on the news proving that they are indeed dangerous, I once lived in an apartment where something almost newsworthy happened.
During the night, in a city in California where fireworks are prohibited, a family and their kids decided to let off a couple of fireworks in the apartment parking lot. They obviously did not want to be caught so they figured they should try to be discrete and chose to do the fireworks off to the very edge of the parking lot, instead of out in the open where they’d be easily seen.
Specifically, they thought it would be an ideal location to set off fireworks under some of the large bushes.
So the police and fire department showed up shortly after, due to the bushes catching on fire. I remember seeing those bushes the next morning. A brilliant plan that was. At least it never happened again while I lived there.
Other than that, I have not had much interaction with fireworks or celebrations on this holiday. It is an interesting art, just not one that has ever fascinated me so much. Mostly, I consider them to be dangerous.
This year will be no different than the previous years. I will be home and hoping that not too many people in the city light themselves on fire… or at least that they manage to avoid any bushes while doing so.