🎆🎇🧨 July 5, 2019 3:10 PM   Subscribe

End of another week, let's talk about something else that is not related to politics. Let's talk about fireworks. Here in N. America we've recently celebrated Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4). Both of these holidays are traditionally celebrated with the setting off of fireworks. Are there any other holidays from around the world where you celebrate with fireworks? I'd love to learn more about that. Do you hate or fear fireworks? Do you set them off yourself? Do you attend a local display put on by your town or city? Do you buy them illegally? Are there any specific types you prefer? Blackcats? UFOs? Roman candles? Feel free to share any photographs/videos of firework displays you've attended recently. As always be kind to yourself and others. And remember to practice proper fire safety protocols.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 3:10 PM (74 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

My kid is three and this year was the first time he saw fireworks: “FIREWORKS ARE AWESOME!!!!”
(Above quote to be said in almost shriek of a happy kid)

Also: he had a similar response to seeing fireflies for the first time
posted by sciencegeek at 3:17 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


Another and perhaps the original fireworks holiday would be the Spring Festival aka Chinese New Year
posted by Rash at 3:20 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


We have tons of fireworks stores here in Maine, but it's illegal to light off bottle rockets or any type of missile firework device.

Have to admit, I fell asleep on the couch at 9:00 last night, just as some neighbors were lighting off something noisy. Husband toddled me off to bed at 10:00, and I got up just before 4:00, as I can't seem to sleep more than 6 - 6.5 hours in the summer, but I do take naps in the afternoon.

Found a really neat little ladle today, it is green Depression glass. I paid $9. Brought it home, and shone my UV light on it, and it glows!

That is because they used to put uranium in glass, it's also known as Vaseline glass. This particular ladle was used with a little bowl, to serve one's guests mayonnaise.

I'd gone into a local vintage shop to find a purse, and I did fine a nice one, and then I was struck by the ladle, and had to have it. Maybe someday I'll find a matching bowl (Google says it was made by Cambridge glass company), and I can be all fancy and serve mayonnaise or compote with my glow-in-the-black-light ladle. It's not any worse than daily background radiation, and I have put it safely behind the door of a glass cabinet for now.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:31 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


I love fireworks. Spouse has been involved in the purchase of fireworks of questionable legality for my state, which is what happens when you life 30 miles from the border of a state with more relaxed laws.

We always spend Independence Day with a group of the same friends. As life has progressed, we have gotten used to watching a pack of children running around, playing with the Slip N' Slide and eating as much junk food as possible.

One of the guests picked up a couple packages of Dollar Store fireworks and set them off before we watched the main show.

It was magical. The kids actually clapped, cheered and my kid (who has the distinction of being the oldest in this group) lead the rest of the pack of children in a round of "Bravo!" There was even a brief intermission so the kids could go catch fireflies.

And they ignored the main show.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:31 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I like looking at fireworks from afar! Pretty. But I get anxious about the fires that fireworks can start (especially in a state where we've had plenty of destructive wildfires and other fires lately - my dad was just telling me about how he saw at least 30+ fires in the news after last night's fireworks, ugh).

Also I feel bad for my friends' dogs and all the animals who have a miserable time whenever they hear the sounds of fireworks a-poppin'.
posted by rather be jorting at 3:33 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


*gratuitously off-topic*

The jury is still out on whether bears do it, but the verdict is in for the foxes.
posted by workerant at 3:47 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


But I get anxious about the fires that fireworks can start

This, but also the possibility of losing finger(s) and/or eye(s) and burning my face. There's so much trust in the person who created/crafted the firework and it just makes me really paranoid about harming myself through some freak accident.

I'll watch from afar.
posted by Fizz at 3:58 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


As someone who grew up in MA, and then lived in TN and CA, I'm happy to watch fireworks at a distance. The idea that John or Jane Q. Public should be able to buy them and set them off? Nope. Partially, that's an artifact of being fairly safety-conscious, and it's also an effect of MA's laws on fireworks (which boil down to: not for members of the public). I was explaining this to officemates today who were incredulous that you couldn't buy them here.

But Dr Bored for Science and I went up to our roof deck and watched the Boston fireworks from seven floors above Cambridge last night, as we do each year, and that was nice.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 4:05 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


I don't mind professional fireworks displays, although I have to be a little careful about where I position myself so they're not too loud and bang-y. But I really hate firecrackers. They're never all that pretty, and they're very loud and bang-y, and I'm always sure some dingbat is going to start a fire or aim straight for someone's eye.

I survived Hell Month! It's over! My parents are coming to visit in a week, and my house looks like it's been hit by a tornado, so I am sitting down tonight to make a big un-tornado-the-house to-do list. But I survived Hell Month!

My goal is to have another job by Hell Month next year. I like my job, but there's no room for growth and I'm bored, and I am going to try to figure out something else I can do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:08 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


I worked in Montana for several summers – we used to get a big box of fireworks and set them off in the boss's driveway for the 4th – so I got to indulge my inner pyromaniac.

Currently I live in a town in Denmark overlooking the central square – on New Year's Eve, everyone lights off fireworks and it's like a war zone. Visiting American friends cannot believe what's happening. Some of the fireworks come zooming almost to my window. It's crazy but I love it.
posted by profreader at 4:10 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


We just returned from the north shore of Lake Superior where we watched my husband's hometown's Canada Day fireworks through a pea-soup fog in 9 degree Celsius weather. That is, we listened to the town's fireworks through the fog. We were at at a friend's place which normally has a direct view of them just downhill in the town park - but it was so densely foggy that there was only sound and an occasional flash in the fog.

The neat thing about just listening to them was:

a.) In this small town you could focus in on the sound, and start timing the *thump* of the launch tubes with the time it took for the shell to burst, and the subsequent echo off the surrounding hills; and

b.) It's far enough north that dusk is almost 11:00 p.m. this time of year, so the fireworks started after 11, and we were already half in the bag. Also, did I mention that it was cold outside? Like, jeans and fleece hoodie weather. Delightful. Now we're back to southwestern Ontario's dank heat and humidity.

Also, I got to stuff my face with Finnish pancakes at the Hoito in Thunder Bay on the way in and back out. My grandparents came to Canada from Finland with my father in tow back in the early 50s, and this place makes pancakes just like my grandmother did.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:19 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Ugh. Living in the PNW is awesome on a lot of levels, but fireworks on July 4th is not one of them. I heard the first boom on monday, and despite home fireworks being banned in most municipalities, there was a constant, and I mean constant , background rumble (punctuated, of course , with startling, nearby booms) yesterday from dusk until well after midnight.

I like a nice professional show with the kids, with time enough between launches to appreciate each, do an "oooooh" and then an "ahhhhh" and then a big finale. I don't love every yahoo neighbor lighting a quarter stick for hours on end.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:23 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


A lot of the ski hills around here will have fireworks on New Years.

And Vancouver has a huge multi day fireworks competition at the end of July every year.

Here are a couple pics I took of fireworks associated with a movie production. In the second one you can see the trees that were set ablaze from an errant device (no other damage besides the affected trees as there was a couple metres of snow covering everything).

And apparently my dog is mellowing with age; this is the first year she didn't freak out about the bangs.
posted by Mitheral at 4:32 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


My kids, 7 and 5, used to be really scared of fireworks but a couple of years ago we went to Niagara Falls for Victoria Day weekend and were able to watch the fireworks from our hotel room and they've liked them ever since. This Canada Day we were on our way back from camping in the Bruce Peninsula and were thinking about going to see the fireworks if we made it home on time. While we were driving back we got to see fireworks going off in different neighbourhoods from the highway which was pretty neat. We did make it home in time but we were much too tired to go to the big fireworks display. They'll be in Japan in August and the fireworks they'll see there will be significantly better than what we have here anyway.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:41 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


My Dovey, who is noise reactive to a whole host of bizarre triggers, is astonishingly oblivious to fireworks. He was happily working a food toy while shock and awe rained down on my block, so I left him there to do something in the other room. Then some asshole set off some really seriously huge and definitely illegal explosions so I went back to check on him and he was dozing up against the baby gate! Amazing!

I can't believe personal fireworks are still legal in the arid West. It's insane. Open flames on unguided projectiles during the driest part of the year. Are we fucking insane? Yes, yes we are.
posted by HotToddy at 4:51 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the general allure of fireworks...besides the pretty lights. When I hear them going off in the distance, I wonder why we want to replicate the sound of being bombed...it just gives me a general sense of unease...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 4:53 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


Oh boy, I really hate them. I am sensitive to noise and have hated fireworks ever since I was a kid. I would cry during every fireworks display. So I was staying home the year that I was in late middle school when a fireworks accident went off in my hometown; it killed my neighbor, maimed a bunch of people, and blew out the windows on a bunch of stores on main street. I heard the explosion 10 miles outside of town at my parent’s house.

In college my friend’s brother was hanging out with folks lighting off fireworks when one hit him right above his eye and he got pretty badly injured. This basically cemented my decision not to hang around people who do their own. When I lived in Seattle, I spent the 4th on friends who lived in Eastlake and was in their yard watching some other group of people light some, and one launched into the open door of a second story patio. I don’t think anyone was hurt but they were rightfully furious with idiots lighting fireworks on a narrow street.

I know it’s confirmation bias at this point but I just hate them! One of my dogs was a former street pup from Puerto Rico and loud noises terrify him, he has many scars to show for a hard life and I feel so tender towards him. He is the sweetest bestest boy, so watching him shake and try to hide under us (he’s a big dog) makes me furious. He’s been drugged all week and it doesn’t seem to do much for him. It sucks to be worried all week about my cat escaping outside, and not being able to walk either dogs because even the “brave” one is too scared by the noise when she’s outside. People light them off during the day here — WTF?!

The 4th is a little less stressful since I moved away from Phoenix, where people fire guns off in the air on the holiday and every year the news would always remind people not to do that because people die from it. I’m an anxious person so the improbability of me being killed in that fashion doesn’t mean I didn’t worry about it!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:18 PM on July 5 [8 favorites]


I generally think fireworks are pretty and, of course, I did plenty of stupid human tricks in my youth when they were unregulated. Now that I am a homeowner and dog mama, they make me crazy. Every year, we are watering down our roof from local hot spots and the kids in our neighborhood are firing off m80s in the alley while my dog is shaking underneath my bed. We've tried benadryl, cbd oil, thundershirts, white noise, music, and TV. Nothing works. We just have to let her shake until she passes out.
posted by Sophie1 at 5:33 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


I also don't care for fireworks. They remind me of everything I don't like about the military. Too loud/martial for my taste.

But, hey, on a more positive note, I did decree that yesterday, Independence Day here in the USA, would be my own personal Independence Day from alcoholic beverages. I wrote in a recent MetaTalk thread that I'd been sober since late April. I generally found it to be a good thing, but I wasn't sure it was going to be forever, just an indefinite hiatus from drinking for the time being. When, at the end of my work fiscal year last Friday, I decided to have a beer to celebrate, it was in that spirit of not abstaining forever. That beer became a second beer. I can't say they tasted very good (and they used to taste delicious!) and I tossed and turned all night. This week I've tried a few other alcoholic drinks, to similar ill effect. I decided that I would have one final beer yesterday at lunchtime, since the local American Legion has free hot dogs and beer at the end of our town's Independence Day parade. I choked down a final Yuengling and, for the foreseeable future, I'm again not going to drink. I'm actually very excited! I've been drinking more or less consistently since the age of 17, with a 5-year break in my late 20s and early 30s but in escalating amounts since my late 30s. I've enjoyed it less and less in recent years. Now that I'm in my mid 40s, with a demanding job, ailing parents, and my own health woes, I'm ready for a change. Who knows how long it'll last this time, but I certainly feel emboldened by my enjoyable recent stint of sobriety. Wish me luck.
posted by cheapskatebay at 5:51 PM on July 5 [17 favorites]


Fireworks in Reykjavik for New Years Eve was AMAZZZZZZZING!!!!

They were possibly made better by the fact that I went from Sydney --> Honolulu --> SanFran --> MPLS --> Reykjavik in like 4 days and the long nights and jet lag made gave everything a very liminal and ethereal feel.

It was a fine end to the shittiest year of my life.

The lightshow was amazing. Seriously. The videos just can't do it justice, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:31 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Hahaha fireworks: a gift from my country (PRC) to our country (USA)! Perhaps you have also heard of paper, moveable type, and the compass!

This is an update from my parents, who liked to remind me of all the ancient scientists exploding stuff in caves and dying there, all so we could ooh and aah at more colors.

Fireworks are ok. Supposedly Seattle set them to music this year, like a real city, but failed to publish (or sufficiently publicize) a livestream? My standard for 4th of July fireworks is 1997 Boston, where every car had its windows wide open and tuned to radio stations playing music synced to the fireworks.
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:41 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


In Ecuador, on New Year's Eve, you burn the "Old Year". This is scarecrow type thing that you build by stuffing straw into clothing, etc. Typically the Old Year is made to look like someone. Sometimes a family member as a sort of tribute/roasting (hahaha) and sometimes a public figure (pure roasting, no tribute implied). Now you can buy premade "Old Years" of public figures. Back in the day, everyone made their own.

Anyway, back in the day, when I was a kid, in addition to straw, they would stuff firecrackers in the old year. Like literally just stuff them in with the straw inside the clothes. Then you set the thing on fire. I'm not sure how it's possible that this never ended badly (at least among anyone of my acquaintance), but it didn't.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:50 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Here in New Zealand we've just celebrated Matariki, the Maori New Year, which is based around the siting of the Pleiades (also called Matariki).

In recent years this has become more of a thing, spreading beyond Maori culture and being picked up by the rest of the country. So there are celebrations/events, and in Wellington the Council has started having a fireworks display. To manage costs, they've cancelled the 5th November (Guy Fawkes) display, which has apparently annoyed a few people who feel that European culture is being trampled on, but they can get in the sea. The change works as it's a lot better having a fireworks display on basically the shortest day of the year, versus early summer.

Also last year we had to postpone the fireworks in case they disturbed a whale that had taken up residence in the harbour, and which was of course named Matariki, as well.

For a few years the Chinese Embassy sponsored fireworks for Chinese New Year, but not anymore.
posted by Pink Frost at 6:59 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


Here in arid, windy Utah, we have “Pioneer Day” on the 24th as well, which is generally considered a bigger deal than Independence Day. (Uh-huh.) Fireworks are only legal in certain areas, a few days before and after each messed-up ethnocentric holiday, and only until certain hours of the night.

But you wouldn’t know it to live in my neighbourhood, which is in a dense urban area: people start launching their psychedelic fart grenades around the end of May and don’t let up until early August. You want nosebleeds and pollution-tinged boogers? You want contact lenses that jump out of your eyes in fragments? You want to smoke a pack a day just by going for a run? Come to Salt Lake!

Ten years ago today Mr. Armeowda and I awoke at 2 AM to see the duplex across the street ablaze.

The family who lived there did NOT NEED THIS extra difficulty level: the mother was on oxygen; her daughter was mute and trans; and they had two cats, both of whom moved in with us after their humans were displaced. The cats are both still around; haven’t seen either of the humans in a while, though the daughter used to come visit the cats.

Fireworks are for professionals; everyone else can take their pyromaniacal Wild West rugged individualism and get off my postage-stamp-sized lawn. Massachusetts has the right idea.
posted by armeowda at 7:10 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


Blargh. I'm not a huge fan of fireworks; the official ones are fine I guess, but I can't deal with randos setting them off. When I lived in Philly it was basically a three-month festival of irritating loud sounds, but where I am in Seattle, I think it's mostly calmed down. Some twat in my apartment had something that sounded like a cap gun which, after a shooting in said apartment building a few months ago, I very much did not need. (They don't sound anything alike really, but I'm still kind of twitchy, and it takes a moment to realize what that sudden loud sound is and dial the panic back.)
This is my first Fourth with my new cat, Alice, and we all learned last night that Alice is terrified of fireworks and spent the night hiding behind the toilet, poor little dab*. She's fine today (and got plenty of snuggles and pets), but I might look into a thundershirt -- because of where I live, we can hear and sometimes see giant official fireworks, so this will be at least a twice-a-year problem.
*sadly I didn't get any pictures, because it was kind of adorable, but here she is in happier times, having a little nap with her teddy.
Her big dumb older brother slept through them all, thankfully.

I used to like fireworks much more when I was younger; my best memory is from the Fourth in 2008. I was volunteering on a tall ship that docked right by Philly's fireworks, and I and a couple of friends climbed up to one of the yards, a good forty feet or so above deck to watch the display. That was magical, and maybe just kind of was the peak of my enjoyment -- nothing will really beat that, being up high on a summer night with dear friends, on the cusp of electing Obama and my moving to another country.
posted by kalimac at 7:23 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


For a long time fireworks were illegal in Georgia, but I grew up in Augusta which is right on the border with South Carolina where fireworks were legal. So every year my dad and granddad would go across the river and buy fireworks and bring them back and we'd set them off. I recall it being kind of fun as a kid.

Now fireworks are legal and my neighborhood (I live just east of Atlanta) sounds like a war zone every 4th of July that goes on well after midnight. I can sleep through it, but my dogs are not fans, so I find myself liking fireworks less and less each year.

It doesn't help that my neighbors will use any holiday as an excuse to set them off. In fact, I was sitting on the couch on Easter Sunday when I heard a ton of fireworks go off from the street behind me. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Redneck #1: Woo hoo, it's Easter! What should we do?
Redneck #2: I know, let's set off some fireworks!
Redneck #1: Woo hoo, let's blow shit up for Jesus!

I'm about at the point where I kind of wish that fireworks were illegal again, or at least harder to obtain. But no, this is America where our right to annoy our neighbors into the early hours of the morning cannot be infringed.
posted by ralan at 7:25 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


I'm glad for folks who enjoy fireworks, and I wish people would stick to the big, official shows; last year, our first year in this house, it sounded like we were getting shelled. My wife spent a year in the sand, well, getting shelled and shot at, so she's not a fan (she can do shows at like, baseball games if she knows they're coming, can see what direction they're coming from, preferably has ear plugs, and it's socially impossible for us to escape).

The dog (a rat terrier/chihuahua mix) jumps at EVERYTHING, let alone fireworks. (Puppy tax, wearing his thunder shirt in honor of tonight's storm).

But last night the neighbors weren't too bad, and the wife had a couple of beers, and we got the dose of Benadryl on the dog just right so that he was calm but not a zombie, and this year wasn't so bad all around.

(Our vet has okayed the occasional microdose of Benadryl for stuff like this, but everyone keeps telling us to try CBD treats for the dog, but we keep forgetting to pick some up because up until very very recently you couldn't buy them around these parts. But that's changed so we need to give that a go.)
posted by joycehealy at 7:35 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Two days before the 4th as I was on the train home, some kids started throwing fireworks at each other and from car to car right in front of the train. It delayed us for a good ten minutes, as the very loud booms and running kids made the driver slam the doors shut at the stop in case the booms were guns. I hit the floor, because to me it sounded like a shotgun. I am not a fan of fireworks. But that being said, from my bedroom window on the 4th I could see some pretty nice ones in the distance of downtown and that was ok.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:14 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


Bonfire/Guy Fawkes Night is obviously A Thing here in the UK. Never actually been to an actual fireworks show nor done much beyond waving a sparkler around in my time. That said, give me an upper floor window plus a bit of parkin and I'm happy as Larry.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:24 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


How about a 7+ earthquake in Ridgecrest California, just a few minutes ago? Second in two days. This one was worse by far my neighbors and I all left our houses. This is Bakersfield.
posted by Oyéah at 8:46 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Aftershocks right now. These are soft east / west swaying.
posted by Oyéah at 8:50 PM on July 5


6.9 is the official number on the second quake. True to Bakersfields nightlife and dining scene, these aftershocks are more east/ west sliders. True to Buck Owens country, like your chair is suddenly a buggy with ansy horses.
posted by Oyéah at 8:59 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Do they still have the small black tablet sized things that just burned and glowed and turned into creepy long black worms?
posted by sammyo at 9:09 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


We've actually done less and less fireworks every year.
This year we did none.

I didn't mind blowing (heh) $20 when you got a whole grocery bag, but now $20 seems to get you about 4 things.

I think that a lot of people around my way are having the same thoughts because the personal end of driveway shows are becoming more rare.
This year, I didn't even need to kick anyone out of the park* for the first time in the 20 years we've lived here.

*I don't mind fireworks in the park. I very much mind 1am fireworks in the park.
posted by madajb at 9:16 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I never buy them, but one thing I kind of love about living in Japan is that fireworks are not constrained to a single day. You can buy bags of fireworks at any convenience store all summer long. It’s not like back home where fireworks suddenly disappear on July 5th. And from about mid-July through the end of August, various municipalities will have massive fireworks displays along riversides. By massive, I mean lasting easily an hour or more.

Every year, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the one time of the year the people I’ve known since I came to Japan manage to all get together in one place. We have a massive, massive tarp, and someone will arrive early, and set it out, around maybe 2 in the afternoon, when the show doesn’t start until 7:30. By six, the entire riverbank will be covered with people and their tarps, from couples sitting on little sheets to massive parties larger than ours.

That morning, I usually spend making absurd amounts of fried chicken strips, like six or seven kilos of it, while others secure the space. We get there, and we drink, and eat, and listen to music and in general have a good time until the fireworks. The fireworks start, we drink, we watch the show, and all is good. At the end, all of the sudden, several hundred thousand people get up and head for the one train station in the area. We stay, we sit, we drink, we turn up the music, and it’s mostly just us, and maybe a couple other folks, enjoying a summer night along the riverside.

It might not be the full on highlight of the year, but it’s something I dearly look forward to, as does everyone else.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:28 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


Another radical aftershock, this one nearly as acute as the first quake.
posted by Oyéah at 9:33 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I’m camping in the desert outside Ridgecrest and it’s been pretty crazy. Something like 30-45 minutes of on and off shaking tonight. I think it’ll probably be classified as a bunch of earthquakes, but it felt like a 45 minute long earthquake with a few brief breaks.

I know it’s bad for the people in the city, but out here in the desert it’s almost magical. You can hear the rumble of the quake coming before the shaking starts. So cool.
posted by ryanrs at 9:36 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


Also the USGS website is broken and not showing earthquakes from the last hour or so. Lots of 4s and one or two 5s (ryanrs butt richter scale).
posted by ryanrs at 9:41 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


If it’s any help for the people who can’t get info from the USGS site, the Caltech map is pretty useful.
posted by corey flood at 10:37 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


USGS is back to normal. Takes 5-10 minutes to show up.

(There was another mid-3? As I was writing this comment.)
posted by ryanrs at 11:14 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I've seen a few memorable fireworks displays.

My hometown always puts on a pretty good show with a large variety of fireworks. Normally they're fired off in different sequences and combinations to keep things from getting dull. However, one year they sent up 8 in a row of the same kind, alternating between two colors, then like 12 of another kind, alternating between two colors, and so on -- the whole show was like that. My partner and I still joke about "the year they alphabetized the rockets".

We were also present for the 2012 San Diego fireworks, at which a computerized controller mistakenly launched the whole arsenal simultaneously from on four barges a minute before the show was supposed to start. The crowd cheered, thinking that if this was how they started the show, it was going to be epic for sure. Then we sat there for 20 minutes as nothing happened and the nature of what we had seen sank in. (People stretch out along miles of the harbor to watch the San Diego fireworks, so it took time for official word to get passed around.)

Now we live in a city where the only fireworks are unofficial, but no less plentiful for that. We could see five amateur shows with municipal-grade rockets at once without leaving our neighborhood. I acknowledge the many reasons this is problematic as hell, but I love it anyway.
posted by aws17576 at 11:16 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


Fireworks are illegal where I live, outside of organized events, but that usually doesn't stop people from setting them off anyway. This year we're in the midst of a heat wave and dry spell (not sure it's a drought yet but we basically had no rain in June and none whatsoever in July so far...) and the fire danger is incredible. The big shows were cancelled, and, miraculously, it seems that people paid attention to the tinderbox we're living in and refrained from freelancing. New motto: celebrate with sprinklers, not sparklers.

Also, sending best wishes to everyone impacted by the earthquake(s) in CA. Big ones are so scary and I'm sure having two in a row is setting people even more on edge.
posted by charmcityblues at 12:45 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


Fireworks that fly are illegal in Oregon - any rockets, Roman candles etc. Not a bad restriction for one of the left coast states in which the "burn season" is now all year. Our dear neighbors compensate with several hours of fireworks that go BANG loudly.
posted by Cranberry at 1:09 AM on July 6


July 4th is a blast!

Bad pun aside, I both love fireworks and fear them. A friend when I was 13 blew off the tips of two of his fingers with an M-80.

I love fireworks put on by people who are trained and sufficiently cautious. Hate when the locals blow off half assed fireworks on their own.
posted by AugustWest at 1:37 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


Greek Easter is all about things that go boom - ranging all the way from squibs to mining dynamite and the Navy/Army firing actual artillery. The big moment is the specific point of the midnight service where the priest announces that Jesus is risen - they typically have to pause the service until the smoke & noise dies down. Actual fireworks as in pretty-colors-in-the-sky used to be not such a big part of it, but have been gaining ground with time.

A lot of the stuff that's used is semi-illegal (e.g. not supposed to be sold to minors) or straight up illegal; some of it is also homemade/improvised - there's some places that have their traditional design of homemade Easter explosive and make a big spectacle out of it. As you might guess there's a number of accidents every year - this year a poor camera operator got killed by a stray improvised rocket.
posted by each day we work at 2:06 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


I like fireworks. I'm sad that here in Australia we don't have them for Guy Fawkes day like we do in NZ. They don't even celebrate Guy Fawkes here. And since home fireworks are not legal, we can't just do our own display on November 5.

They do have them for New Years, which is always fun. I'm pretty sure New Year's fireworks weren't a thing when I was a kid in NZ, although NZ certainly does it now.
posted by lollusc at 4:28 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


My husband reminds me I love sparklers so it would be wrong to say I dislike fireworks ---> it's the BOOM in fireworks I'm not a fan of....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:12 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


We adopted a cat in February, and she is normally a very vocal/annoying “must know where the humans are at all times and remind them of my existence” sort of cat. She has only hid under the bed after a traumatic trip to the vet. She hid under the bed the evening of July 4th, and I kind of enjoyed it.

Luckily my sick kid slept through all the noise. Fireworks were legalized here by the last governor, at which point I worked at a level 1 trauma center that shared the only hand surgeon in the region who reattached digits with the other level 1 hospital down the highway. Gross. I’m not a fan of home fireworks, even if they make my cat crave solitude.
posted by Maarika at 5:32 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


Just checking in to say that on the 4th of July my spouse's uncle said a blessing before we ate our BBQ and when he thanked God for all of the great freedoms we have in America my 3 year old child blew a huge raspberry. Thank you, kiddo, for so often vocalizing the things I abstain from saying out loud.
posted by duffell at 5:57 AM on July 6 [14 favorites]


Seriously, and I've never said this before: It was everything.
posted by duffell at 6:03 AM on July 6 [6 favorites]


We didn't venture out on the 4th to see any fireworks this year, although we could hear the show being put on after that night's baseball game. Tonight, I'll get to see fireworks from the stage after my band finishes its set at a festival. And on the 9th, I'll get to see fireworks from a stage on the field of that baseball stadium, where we'll be playing after the All-Star Game home run derby.

My parents used to throw a July 4th picnic, which usually involved racks and racks of ribs and multiple crates of mail-order fireworks from South Carolina that my dad would get shipped via UPS. After my parents stopped throwing those parties, we'd still get a bunch of bottle rockets, which I loved setting off from inside a Coke bottle.
posted by emelenjr at 6:23 AM on July 6


I wouldn't exactly call it a "rite of passage", but in Iowa it was not unusual in the 70's and 80's for kids (usually boys) who had just got their drivers license to drive to the nearest fireworks-r-legal state (Missouri or South Dakota, whatever was closest) at the end of June to buy a pile of fireworks. I may have accompanied some friends on one such excursion. It was fun at the time.
posted by coppertop at 6:36 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I love watching fireworks from a distance. This year we got a hotel room in Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay to watch the fireworks on the 4th - unfortunately the show that was closest to us was abruptly halted halfway through due to a "suspicious package" scare. But what we did see of it was amazing, and we could see more distant displays along the beaches for miles up and down the coast, and the overall effect was enchanting.

The fireworks were not the coolest thing we saw on the trip to Miami though, that honor goes to the Perez Art Museum and in particular the work American Echo Chamber by Jose Carlos Martinat.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:42 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I can enjoy a professional fireworks display just fine, but I live in an urban neighborhood where my neighbors set off a tremendous number of fireworks on the 4th going on until well after midnight. A few years ago, we both called in sick the day after because we had gotten so little sleep. We now take that week as our vacation and leave home, so we don't have to listen to it.
posted by maurice at 7:53 AM on July 6


There's been a big push on the East Coast to legalize fireworks in the past couple of years, for whatever reason. They used to be illegal in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and it was some cognitive dissonance to run into Acme the other day for limes and see them selling fireworks.

I really hate them and don't understand the push to make them legal. Does Phantom have that much lobbying money?
posted by Automocar at 8:18 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I live near a lake, mostly year-round now, but very much a summer camp environment. Maine made fireworks legal, as far as I can tell it was due to lobbyists for the fireworks stores. It gets so noisy. On the 4th, many people around the lake do displays; it's very local, the kids watched from in the lake, people have bonfires. It's a great celebration and I prefer it to the big display in town which has better fireworks, the symphony, too many people, parking hassles, etc.

I would so love it without so many salutes - the big bangs. I like the thwump sound as the mortar is launched, and the big beautiful blossom opening.

For anyone with PTSD or noise sensitivity, my sympathy. Luckily my dog is uneasy but not panicked.
posted by theora55 at 8:23 AM on July 6


I love fireworks but I don't set them off myself. Every July 4th, we attend a local neighborhood's ridiculously awesome parade, head over to the pool for a few hours, and then have a big cookout with a bunch of friends. It's pretty much my favorite time of the year, aside from Christmas.

The best part is driving home afterward, seeing all the little fireworks people are setting off. Cincinnati is a fairly hilly city, so if you're on the highway that cuts through the hills, you have a really good view of all the stuff being set off in the neighborhoods. It's great.

The city does a fireworks show downtown on the 4th (on the river, really). But for some reason, Labor Day is THE DAY for the city sponsored fireworks in Cincinnati. It's even broadcast on local TV! (huh! I never knew the history before today!
posted by cooker girl at 8:25 AM on July 6


Oh, and my dog, who is afraid of EVERYTHING (other dogs, thunder, rain, snow, grass, feathers, balloons, sudden movements, the car, not being in the car when we're in the car, one of our cats): fireworks don't bother him AT ALL. *shrug* He's a weirdo.
posted by cooker girl at 8:27 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I saw fireworks from an airplane once and they were so gorgeous from that vantage point. Bonus—no fireworks noises!
posted by bookmammal at 8:41 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


[A] fireworks accident went off in my hometown; it killed my neighbor, maimed a bunch of people, and blew out the windows on a bunch of stores on main street. I heard the explosion 10 miles outside of town...

[TW: death, suicide] I love fireworks from a distance and the involuntary collective "Ooohhh!" when the shot goes up, followed by "Aaahhh" when the shell bursts. My favorites are the multi-layered chrysanthemums that conclude with bright white sizzle worms. Back when I had a radio show, the town at the center of the stories included a fireworks factory; the community enjoyed fireworks year round, except for Fourth of July and New Year's Eve, when the employees would be putting on shows elsewhere. But my adoration is tinged with terror.

I grew up in Massachusetts where fireworks were treated like the lethal explosives they are. And in 1964, my family was present at a disaster that took place on the Cambridge Common. A rack of shells queued up for the finale tipped over and so the full battery fired into the crowd. I remember seeing the bright lights coming at me, a little like how it looks when you fly over a fireworks show but extremely loud and incredibly close. My father grabbed me, age 4, and ran while my mother picked up my 2- year old brother. The crowd was panicking. My parents were separated in the throng. We headed for the car and I remember my father placing my hand on the bumper and telling me, in no uncertain terms, not to move while he stood on the roof to scan the crowd for them. Then we couldn't leave for a long time because the car keys were in my mother's purse, which she'd left behind with our picnic stuff in the scramble to reach safety. It was terrifying. Several people were killed and others badly burned. I don't know if anyone was trampled.

That would be enough, but then a few years later, one of the first chapter books I read involved a kid who finds a discarded small firework (cherry bomb, maybe?) with a short fuse, sets it off and is blinded; the accident happens in the first few pages and the rest of the book tells the story of his adaptation and eventual acquisition of a seeing-eye dog. In early 80s Brooklyn, I worried about getting shot by revelers firing their guns into the sky. And then, in about 1986 or so, the Madison fireworks show was cancelled because one of the pyrotechnicians blew his own head off during the opening salvo. Last , but definitely not least, a friend committed suicide on July 3rd. he had always hated the noise and we what role in his timing was played by the desire to avoid yet another hellacious Independence Day boomfest.

So a few years ago, when my macho idiot gun nut former son-in-law showed up for July 4th with an arsenal, I lost it. I'm fine with lighting sparklers for kids and letting them twirl then around, but he seemed to think it was a-ok for his young children (then about 5 and 8) to set off the big shells while their two-year old sister gamboled around under foot. I just couldn't stand it, and I let him have it. To this day he mocks me for what he considers to be my fuddy dud safety mania and killjoy ways.

Reader, I don't care.
posted by carmicha at 8:47 AM on July 6 [10 favorites]


I'm living in a building with a roof deck for the first time, and because of all the bootleg fireworks in all the different neighborhoods it was seriously a 360º panorama of fireworks going off in every direction Thursday night. It was magical.
posted by capricorn at 8:47 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


My favorite fireworks show takes place at Lake Bloomington, Illinois. Lakeside residents raise money for the show by buying paper bags with cutout patterns. They line the shore and docks with them, weighting the bags down with sand and using tea lights for illumination. People head out to the middle of the lake in their party barges, often rafting together and holding big on-the-water picnics. Once it's dark, the fireworks go off and everyone cheers and honks their boat horns. It's wonderful.
posted by carmicha at 8:57 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I enjoy a proper professional fireworks display put on by the city or whatnot, but I haven't been to the local Fourth of July fest in years. It's ridiculously crowded and the traffic trying to get out of there afterwards is a nightmare. We took advantage of the shuttle service one year where you can park at the mall and a bus will take you to the festival site. Seemed like a great idea but when it was time to leave we waited in line for two hours to catch a shuttle. So we're just done with that.

As a kid we were always warned about firecrackers because my mom's cousin Roger had lost a couple of fingers as a kid when one went off in his hand. We always got sparklers though, and those little pellets that grow into black snake-like shapes when you light them. Those are my favorite.

My daughter dated a guy in high school who volunteered with the JayCees, who put on the fireworks show every year. He had a t-shirt that read "I'm with the fireworks crew. If you see me running, try to keep up."
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:32 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I hate fireworks. I startle easily, and the sound is too close to what I heard when I got shot. My cats also don't like them, and I just hate thinking about all the animals who are terrified and hiding or who run away on the 4th because of the noise, and all the veterans who have PTSD, and everyone else who's ever been shot trying not to relive something.

Also as an American the idea of celebrating our country when there are little kids in cages at our border really grosses me out.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:11 AM on July 6 [6 favorites]


As a Brit the big firework event is Nov 5th. This typically means a week of kids setting off bangers at random intervals and the cat gets a week of indoor evenings so we avoid him hiding out somewhere and us walking the streets in the early hours shaking his food container.

Apart front that I quite enjoy it. The date has a feel of the weather turning cold and gathering round a big fire works well with that. We usually go to a friend's party where everyone throws in for a firework and he burns off his garden waste for the year.

Size wise the biggest firework party I've been to was in Hungary, fluked in to being in Budapest for the national day (Aug 20th) about 25 years ago. In the afternoon went for a walk to the castle on the hill and couldn't work out why there were all these tubes everywhere on the hillside. That evening streets were rammed, must have been hundreds of thousands of people. Huge number of fireworks, lasers smoke rings etc. Turned out they set off so many the hillside goes on fire so they set up firehoses and just douse the fire even before it starts.

I am reminded of a piece of folk poetry, which I will simply title 'For Roger':

November the fifth has come and gone,
but thoughts of it still linger.
I held a banger in my hand,
Has anyone seen my finger?
posted by biffa at 12:03 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I was just kind of traumatized. I’m still trembling a little from it. I feel like this shouldn’t have hit me like this but it has.

I just got back from taking the dog for a walk and we walked to a nice park and botanical garden about a mile away and on our way back we had to cross at this tricky intersection. It’s on a rather dangerous road where the speed limit is 40 but where cars are frequently driving faster. They installed a little pedestrian crossing that lights up these flashing signs so people can get across, but it’s not uncommon to hear the screeching of brakes on that road as some driver, driving too fast, suddenly notices the sign and people in the crosswalk.

So we were on our way back and had just successfully crossed the intersection when my beagle-ish dog, Lucy stopped at the sound of a dog barking loudly behind us. That she turned around to look made me stop and look. On the other side of the intersection sat a brown sedan at the stop sign, all the windows down, mother and daughter in the front, and a rather large but fluffy and cute gray mutt barking at us from the back window. Before I knew it the dog had jumped out of the car and was heading right for us. Through the intersection narrowly avoiding being hit twice, heading right at us, his leash trailing behind, still attached to his thick choke chain. As soon as he reached us he started acting aggressive with Lucy, I wasn’t sure if he wanted to fight or fuck her, but I wanted him to back off. He started mouthing her head and neck and I didn’t think he’d bite me so I grabbed his leash and tried to steer him away from my dog, but Lucy was tangled around my leg and I couldn’t pull him far enough away from her, so I decided to grab him by the collar and separate them.

By this time the mom and teen daughter had crossed the street and were out of their car and heading toward me. To my horror, the choke chain snapped in my hand and as I held his broken collar, I watched the dog head back toward the busy road, there were cars all over it. I saw it coming. Thud, the dog ran smack into the side of a speeding car. At first, it just curled into a fetal position, yelping, and more cars were coming. Fortunately one missed the dog and the next one stopped. I don’t know how long it took, it felt like an eternity but it was maybe five seconds, and the dog pulls itself up, like fucking Lazarus, and first starts to limp, but then begins to run back to me. And then he sits down in front of me. And I drop Lucy’s leash and I bend down and I hold him until the mom comes to get him. His collar is broken so she grabs him by the scruff and leads him to the car. But the windows were still down so he jumps out again and runs back to me. Finally, they get him in the car and roll the windows part way up and the mom comes back to get his broken collar and leash. And I tell her I’m so sorry, the collar just broke in my hand. It was one of those heavy duty collars too, with bent tines on the inside that seem almost Medieval. And it just snapped in my hand, like I was fucking Thor. I'm not Thor, not even close. How the fuck did that happen?

She insisted it wasn’t my fault and she was very sorry her dog attacked mine. I told her we were fine, but she should immediately take her dog to the vet. He might seem fine but a lot of that was probably adrenalin. I’m sure he had broken bones and potentially internal injuries. Neither dog had a spot of blood on it, but one dog clearly was hurt. She asked if I was sure we were okay, and I said yes, and she apologized once more, and then we both turned and started to leave, but as I watched her walk away I saw her stop and bend over, hands on both knees, and she just busted into tears. Loud rushing tears. I asked if she was okay, if there was anything I could do. She said no, and stood up, and stopped crying, and walked back to her car and drove off.

Jesus-fucking-Christ. The most intense five minutes of maybe the past ten years. I just hope she gets that dog to a vet. I was still about twenty minutes from home. About a block away from where we were is a park that’s one of the city’s few leashless parks. It has no fence, but well-behaved dogs at that park are not required to wear a leash. That’s the kind of dog I have. And she witnessed the whole thing too. And was attacked. I think she was pretty freaked out too. We crossed the bridge to that park and I took Lucy off her leash, but she never let herself be more than thirty feet away from me. We walked over to a grove of oaks and sat in the shady grass. I lavished her with attention but I was still trembling. We both laid in the grass and tried to catch our breath. I phoned my wife and told her the whole story. She said the same thing. Jesus-fucking-Christ. She asked if I wanted to be picked up. I said no, that finishing the walk would probably do me good. But all the way home I kept seeing it. Hearing the thud and seeing that dog bounce and curl like a shrimp. Like PTSD flashbacks, but I kept thinking that was stupid to think. But I kept seeing it. But everyone survived. It could have been so much worse. But it was horrible. And I keep seeing it. But a miracle occurred. Did it? If she didn’t immediately take her dog to the vet that dog could die tonight. FUCK!

So, that happened. I think I need a beer. Jesus-fucking-Christ.
posted by Stanczyk at 12:31 PM on July 6 [7 favorites]


Just a belated reminder. You can play this for your dogs. Helps calm 'em during fireworks.
posted by aniola at 12:32 PM on July 6


@Stancyzk, I'm so glad that you and your pet are ok and I'm hoping the other dog and their family is being looked after. Drink that beer, you deserve it and spoil your pupper this weekend with some extra treats and fancy food. Just good things to heal and love.
posted by Fizz at 12:42 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]


My god Stanczyk, that is horribly traumatizing.. I'm glad you and your dog are ok; I hope that other family is too. **hugs**
posted by Fig at 12:49 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I got a massive and completely unexpected medical bill on the 4th, so I was fully anti-American. Fuck this country!

I still went and saw fireworks at the park. They were close bright and very loud, which was only a problem in that I felt like I was continuing to whittle away at what's left of my hearing. I like fireworks, but eh, none of it is the same as the 4th in California. The 4th is also sort of a significant date in my life now, and it was a bummer to be so far away from the people I'm usually with. I dislike the DC area -- where I grew up -- on the best of days, and a day like the 4th just amplifies my homesickness for the other coast.

Speaking of California, I was out biking last night when I got the USGS notification about the 7.1 quake. Yikes! I hope all you Southern California people are OK! All my LA friends were talking about it. Supposedly people could feel it as far north as Sacramento, although no one I know in the Bay Area has said anything about it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:39 PM on July 6


My wife and I got married on Independence Day in 2009, so we're taking a long weekend in Toronto (about a 5 hour drive) to celebrate our anniversary and get away from [redacted] going on back home. Couldn't be here for Canada Day like we were in 2016, so no fireworks this time, but the atmosphere is still pretty festive, and the weather's been much better than predicted, and certainly better than back home.

It's been interesting conversing with folks here about the [redacted], but mostly we've been tuned out of current events, save for the occasional check of MeFi. We saw "Come From Away" at the Elgin Theater last night, which was an outstanding show about being welcoming to others in a time of crisis -- something we could really use more of back home.

Our dog isn't having such a great time at home, though, because he's terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks, and he's had plenty of both at his nana's house since we've been gone. Now that fireworks are legal in PA, every jagoff is lighting them off constantly. And when those aren't making noise, the thunder is.

We'll be back home tomorrow, hopefully by which time everyone will have burned through their stockpile. At the end of this month we'll celebrate his 10th adoptiversary, and I bought a special beverage to help him ring in the occasion. I'll just have to open the can really slowly to avoid startling him. :)
posted by tonycpsu at 4:07 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine owned a houseboat which was a block south of Lynn street and near the end of its dock on Lake Union. Which put it at a point of an isosceles triangle extending east between the other two points of the fireworks barge and Gasworks park.

When the show began, you could feel the shockwaves of the explosions on your exposed and read by their light. It was truly an awesome experience to see nearly straight up into shells as they burst overhead and hear and feel the echoes and echoes of echoes ad infinitum bouncing off back and forth between Queen Anne and Capitol Hills.

Bob died some years ago and since then I've found that after a couple of decades of the best seats in the house of the more or less great outdoors, going a few blocks to watch the fireworks from a vantage point behind St. Mark's cathedral on Capitol Hill is not a big enough deal to be worth the walk.

And, as for those going off nearby, nothing brings out the Get Off My Lawn! from me as some drunk yahoos down the street scaring the bejesus out of my neighbors' dogs with the noise and out of me with the sight of the coals from their Roman candles landing on the four inch deep blanket of dry twigs and branches under the evergreens on the corner. Talk about the urge to kill -- especially when it would be an easy peasy plea of self defense to do so.
posted by y2karl at 7:06 PM on July 6


My Fourth was largely taken up with packing and moving many boxes from our apartment to our new (to us, first owned) house, driving a U-Haul van back and forth and feeling so sweaty and gross. That last part is such what happens when going outside during the summer in this swamp town, and then we made it worse with the physical labor.

Even though we had the van reserved until late at night, we called it quits around 6pm. And when coming back to the apartment we saw a bit of a fireworks show, we thought for a moment of trying to track down where it was and getting a better look. But with the way we were feeling, we just went home. And got to see a pretty great view of it from our windows!

Our dog is rescue that came from (gun-related) abuse around four years ago, so this used to be a bad time for her. But even with all the stress of watching us pack and leaving her alone at home much more than usual she seemed to handle it really well.

---

As far as my personal involvement with fireworks, it's been really slim. There are some stand-out memories, though. I remember growing up in Houston and seeing so many stands outside county lines (because they weren't legal in Harris county), with so many competing deals — Buy One Get Five Free, but down the road it's seven free, then 10 free, let's push our luck and yes! Fifteen free!

A stand went up in the shopping center right across the street from our house. Buy One Get One Free is the worst deal I've ever heard of.
posted by cardioid at 11:08 AM on July 7


I have very fond memories of Guy Fawkes night when I was a kid, before they banned fireworks here (Victoria, Australia). Of course, the more I've learned about the sectarian nastiness of the celebration, the less I like it. But fireworks! And bonfires!

They're banned here, but my neighbourhood still has loads of illegal fireworks go off every lunar new-year and every Diwali. Not worth going to Canberra for, IHMO. I can never see them from my place, because they're mostly crackers.

When OS I have spent far too much on fireworks where they were allowed. One time I set up a bunch on a beach, maybe six roman candles fused together and stuck in the sand. Lit the fuse and, in retreating, upset their orientation. The resultant Katyusha of colour rained upon some innocent and very unhappy Germans.

Sorry unlucky Germans. I didn't mean it.
posted by pompomtom at 10:30 PM on July 9


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