Changing Perspective On Fireworks


I believe in the past I have advocated that the United States take a more lenient position on fireworks. At the risk of being called a flip-flopper, I think I am beginning to reconsider my stance on this issue as a direct result of a crazy incident this past weekend.

Let’s begin this story by going back a couple weekends to Jim’s retirement party. As we prepared and planned for the party, we designated various attendees with different procurement responsibilities from food to drink to fireworks. As the sun was setting on the retirement party and the keg was halfway empty, we made a surprising discovery,
the attendee in charge of firework procurement had performed exceedingly well at the task. The first fireworks went soaring through the sky like a bullet on fire and exploded into glittering star that fell through the night. Immediately afterward, you heard the next mortar dropped into a tube “fwump”, it hurling itself through the pipe into the sky “shwoot”, and finally a “boom” that you felt on your chest and rattled the windows. Immediately, I had realized that this was three things:
1. This was illegal
2. It was taking place in my back yard
3. This is probably dangerous for a variety of reasons

At the risk of being the lamest people at the party, Jac and I consulted, and asked that we end the fireworks show prematurely. There were some groans, but we still had plenty left to eat and in the keg and life resumed.

Fast forward to last weekend. In my garage we had two large unused fireworks. One was a tube with mortars, I determined this to be too dangerous an item and left it sit in the corner of my garage. The other firework was a large rectangular box that had a fuse on the side. It was big, rectangular, and sort of heavy. It didn’t look like the mortar thing, so I assumed it would shoot out some sparks, crackle, and whistle into the night. I told Jaclyn my intentions of lighting the firework and she was adamantly against it. This was one of those times in life where I decided to just go for it, light the damn thing, and we’d all be happy that I didn’t listen to her.

I lugged the big box into the middle of my back yard into a clearningbetween the trees that border our property on both sides. I looked up and saw nothing but clear sky. I grabbed the lighter, bent down next to the box, lit the fuse, and ran full speed back to our patio, a good 50 feet away from the box. Winston, Dalia, Jaclyn, and I all looked at the simple box in varying sorts of anticipation. FWUMP! SHWOOT! BOOM! FWUMP SHWOOT BOOM! FWUMP SHWOOT BOOM!!! Again and again, mortars are shooting rapid fire from this box of horror and they’re not going straight up! Mortars blast 45 degrees to the right, shooting skyward on a 45 degree angle right through trees and exploding in other yards, they were shooting straight up, I was pleading with the box to make it stop and it just kept going faster and faster. 20 seconds seemed like a lifetime as I calculated the possible damage and legal issues that I would no doubt be dealing with at the conclusion. There were 4 different reactions to the stimuli:
1. Two houses down, a large family barbeque was happening and they cheered and hollered in appreciation
2. Dalia was terrified and went into the house
3. Our next door neighbor immediately starting hosing down his roof as a precaution
4. Jac did not validate my decision to proceed with lighting the firework against her guidance

I must say that my neighbors are pretty understanding people, I will leave it at that. I did several laps around the neighborhood to inspect for any smoldering ashes or forest fires, we slept with the windows open to ensure we catch the faintest whiff of smoke, and I stayed up into the early hours of the morning because I couldn’t stop worrying.

After a couple days to reflect on the issue, the cops haven’t arrested me yet, fires have been avoided, and things are good with the neighbors, so all is back to the same, accept now I think some firework restrictions are perhaps a good idea.

3 thoughts on “Changing Perspective On Fireworks

  1. Ok, first of all, I understand your concerns. I know for a fact that if that scenario occurred in Southern California where I live, the danger involved would have been much more intense and probable. At any moment, thousands of acres of land and houses are one smoldering cigarette butt away from going up in flames.But to limit firework consumption because NO precautions are taken except the mad dash after lighting the fuse seems like broken logic to me. Perhaps next time you need to be more specific about the types of fireworks that you are looking for. Or to prepare for a large display and decide that a wooded area with houses nearby may not be the best location.The same line of logic that brings your conclusion of restricting fireworks is why kids have to prepare for the next mad cow aids flu with a shot in the arm of it. Or why a kid has to wear bicycle helmets or full body armor when riding a skateboard. Or why cops and psychiatrists are called in whenever a kid gets in a fight. A little disease, a few skinned knees, or a punch to the gut helps you grow stronger, know your limits, and respect what deserves respecting.I like to call it natural selection.

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  2. Okay, ban might not be appropriate, but better product description on the package would have helped me avoid the ballistic situation. I thought I was lighting off a big sparklers thing and was completely surprised to see it shooting into the sky.

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