Here in the US, we like to celebrate special occasions by lighting things on fire. A prime example would be birthdays. It’s traditional to present the honoree with a beautifully decorated cake…then promptly set a match to it and watch to see if all the flames can be blown out. For the birthday of our nation, mere candles aren’t enough. We feel the need to celebrate with fireworks so everyone can marvel at their flaming beauty.
Now, as you may know, I grew up in Southern California…the very dry Southern California. Fireworks outside of the professional shows were highly illegal. Of course there were always some fools that would zip across the border to smuggle back some illicit pyrotechnics every year. Let’s just blame them for the wild fires that rage across the area nearly every summer. Needless to say, nearly every July 4th was spent battling the crowds to see the public firework displays.
Our first year in Washington, we noticed that a multitude of little shacks had sprung up near the end of June. We were amazed to find that they were all selling fireworks. Not being sure if this was really allowed or not, we guiltily went ahead and purchased a box of sparklers and some “poppers” just for fun.
The next year, we knew better. We (meaning Shaun) purchased a huge box of fireworks and joined the rest of the neighborhood in shooting off rockets the middle of the street. It turned out that what we thought of as a huge box was really nothing but peanuts compared to everyone else had. Apparently, all the cool kids snub their noses at the little shacks jumping out all over the place. The real place to go is called “Boom Town”. This is a little city that springs up overnight each year near the Tulalip Reservation.
Rumor has it that for the right price, you can get nearly any type of firework you want out there. We’ve never been to Boom Town (are you crazy, let Shaun loose in a whole mini-town of exploding things??!!) but we have reaped the benefits.
One of my best friends has been hosting a blow out fourth of July party for the past few years. They live on a small, slightly competitive, lake community. As soon as it gets dark, which is a little after ten, we all head down to the beach. All the men folk get the kids (pretty much all but mine) and start blowing things up. A couple other groups across the lake start blowing things up too. Each group showing off to the others. The results go on for at least an hour and are magnificent.
I’m not exactly sure why we, as a nation, choose to celebrate with fireworks. Perhaps it has something to do with Sir Frances Scott Key’s words “and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air….”
Then again, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that we just like setting fire to things….
Happy Birthday to US. I hope you had a great Fourth.
Bit O Life
Grandpa…being a pest.