July 3, 2015 Dave Z
Ah, the Fourth of July. That time of year when Americans unite under that banner of solidarity and freedom. We celebrate our differences and commonality. For one day at least, we remember that we are fifty distinct states brought together in common purpose.
That, and we like to blow things up in the sky, usually while wolfing down some sort of meat product with a side of baked beans. It’s a hallowed tradition reaching back to the birth of our nation; John Adams writes in a letter to his beloved Abagail, on July 3, 1776:
“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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
What that says about us that our first order of celebration was to cause a ruckus and light things on fire, well, who knows? Also, Shews? But we’ve sure done Johnny A. proud over the centuries. Today, you can go basically anywhere in the U.S. and enjoy professional fireworks displays that will leave you in awe and wonder.
In most states, you can even host your own displays, within reason of course. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, only three states ban all use of consumer level fireworks, including sparklers: Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Everywhere else, you can at least wave sparklers around like a madman and burn after-images into your eyes to your heart’s content.
That’s not to say folks in those states get left out in the cold completely. In fact, one of the most anticipated events of the year is always any explosive extravaganza and concert spanning two days over the Charles river in Boston. The fireworks themselves for these shows often range north of $100,000, and the same family that produces this show, The Grucci’s, will be responsible for 30+ shows across the nation this weekend. From one End of this Continent to the other, indeed.
If you absolutely must produce your own show, please check the American Pyrotechnics Association website for a state by state listing of exactly what types of fireworks are legal in your state. Yes, their website is actually americanpyro.org. I was surprised too. You may also want to check with your local municipality to see what regulations they have regarding fireworks, particularly if you live within the city limits.
Above all, no matter how you choose to celebrate our nation’s independence, be safe. Here’s a handy-dandy list of tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety. After all, you don’t want your significant other to have to open your ketchup bottles for the rest of your life.
Happy 4th everyone, and enjoy that BBQ! We’ll leave the tea and crumpets to our Canadian neighbors to the north, who by the way, celebrated Canada Day earlier this week. So let’s show them how we do fireworks down here in the States, eh.
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