Blue Byline

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July 4th has become – groan – fireworks season

Post by Brian O'Neill on July 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm with 7 Comments »
July 5, 2011 1:56 pm

Crack, thud, boom. Here we go again.

At the risk of sounding like the Grinch of Independence Day, I really hate fireworks. I hate the bottle rockets and roman candles, the smoke bombs and spinners, the fountains and the flares. Most of all, I hate the fuses which always seem to provide one second less than you need to make a clean getaway.

I’ll admit–it might be a hangup.

The street I grew up on was a war zone every Fourth of July. Sparklers were used for poking and proding people smaller than you, bottle rockets were typically pointed in horizontal directions, and smoke bombs were never lit until about one second before you stuffed them in your buddy’s pocket.

Then one year I accidentally set my sister’s hair on fire, and I have never enjoyed fireworks since. She got better, but now every July she makes sure to keep at least one state between us.

Disliking fireworks is a problem for me because my job as a cop sometimes requires me to monitor fireworks use, especially on the Fourth of July. Up until this year I have always worked the Fourth, a holiday that requires most cops to show up to keep the lid on the city. So, rather than enjoy a twenty minute display of dazzling pyrotechnics over the water and calling it a night, my colleagues and I usually spend the night running from one bottle rocket fiasco to the next.

Having just returned from Vancouver, I can tell you that the Canadians celebrate their own version of Independence Day a lot more quietly. Canada Day, July 1, is mostly spent going to BBQ’s, beaches, and staged events dressed in red and sporting a maple leaf. The only fireworks you’re likely to hear are from the spectacular show performed over the downtown waterfront. It is a peaceful holiday, and I wish it were that way back home.

Back in the states fireworks are everywhere. They are sold online by U.S. Fireworks, outside supermarkets by scout troops, and on Indian reservations at stands with ironic (and moronic) names like “Ill Eagle.” A further irony is that these sales are most often legal, despite the fact that in many cities it is either a civil infraction or crime to use the majority of these products. For those who want some ka- in their boom, the phrase ”If it goes up or blows up, it’s illegal” doesn’t leave much in the way of entertainment.

Worst of all is the fact that fireworks usage has morphed from an Independence Day event to a season (much like political campaigns). Somewhere around mid-June the first bogus “shots fired” call hits the police frequency, and from that point on it’s noise, noise, noise. By July 10th I feel like a stressed out puppy left in the backyard during an electrical storm.

But, for the record, I’m not suggesting we do anything about it. That’s because fireworks and the Fourth of July are a symbiotic relationship forged in history and etched in our memories…mostly with gunpowder.

So why would I suggest we change the way we celebrate Independence Day? Even a stressed out puppy knows when he’s been licked.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. samanthamarten says:

    Three days before July 1st and 6 days before July 4th my vet had already received a casualty–the family dog startled by the neighbors firecrackers was hit by a car. And the infractions go on with our understaffed police held accountable for it all. For example, Jack-in-the-Box (56th and Pacific) begins hosting fireworks usually by Friday before the 4th, The first showing (presented by their inebriated clientele) takes place around 2:00am.. A second showing (sponsored by the local drug thugs) occurs at 4:00am. All of our mute (at least on the topic of fireworks) elected officials are invited to attend either showing.

  2. gogoDawgs says:


    I too would not change a thing. Except to remove the bans that some cities have… Furthermore, I have, at 42, never personally purchased fireworks.

    “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
    –Adams wrote this in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.

  3. Get the earplugs and binoculars out, for looking at the roof.

  4. The majority of the morons lighting fireworks off don’t even have a clue of what they’re supposed to represent. People that dislike the annoyance, debris all over their yards, cleaning up the carpet after their frightened dogs are scared
    $ h i t l e s s, shouldn’t have to put up with it. It’s time for a Statewide Ban of all fireworks – legal and illegal.

  5. gonefishin69690 says:

    I got hurt at work once, being negligent and doing something stupid. Work should be banned too. When I was younger, I wrecked my motorcycle while “showing off”, they should ban motorcycles too. I had a friend several years ago, who lost his 3 year old daughter to a drowning in their pool, because he had only “left her for a second”, he has never gotten over it. Perhaps we should ban pools too. ………………Keep in mind, there is NO ban that will prevent stupidity, or take the place of common sense.

  6. Kevindot1 says:

    I’m 38 years old and still love the sights and sounds of good old fashion neighborhood fireworks. I like lighting them off myself, and I like watching other people do it too. Fireworks on the Fourth of July is like apple pie. Talk about a slice of Americana. I suggest jintz and this cop go ahead and move to Canada if they want to celebrate like the Canadians.

  7. smokey984 says:

    Good points gonefishing69690. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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