September 17, 2014
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Summer should start, not end, on a boom
This Side Up

I’ve always been fascinated by fireworks but never understood the obsession some people have with them.

Don’t misunderstand me. I suppose like most kids, our hometown Fourth of July fireworks display was a big event, greatly anticipated. My sister and I got to stay up late for the show held at the town park. My parents brought along blankets that were spread out on the cool evening grass while it was still light enough to find your way around without tripping on the scores gathered for the show. Invariably it seemed like an interminable wait before the first of the rockets, leaving a red trail, looked to climb into the clouds with showers of dazzling lights. I was enthralled and I can remember after the grand finale, and the blowing of all the car horns in acknowledgement, wishing it would happen all over again but knowing I had to wait another year.

My mother was great at critiquing the show, describing the brilliance of the colors, how they looked like chrysanthemums and, of course, applauding the cascade of explosions – capped by that gigantic single boom – that spelled the end of it all

As a kid, and that’s some time back, fireworks were reserved for the Fourth of July. There were no municipal sanctioned displays; such as we have here for Gaspee Days and National Night Out, or for fairs and carnivals. And certainly there were none for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions that I got to see.

Fireworks were reserved for the Fourth and that was it.

But that’s not the case in Rhode Island, anyway.

Here, fireworks are a part of just about anything you can imagine. Whatever the occasion, it seems, it’s reason to light up half a dozen M80s, fire off a rocket or, as has become the practice, light the fuse to a box of the rockets that will light up the sky for three or four minutes.

Just about any summer night, you can count on the bang or boom of fireworks near or far. It’s so common that it blends into the night air, neither interrupting the chorus of crickets nor giving reason to look out the window.

Naturally, there was more reason to shooting up the sky on Sunday. Monday would be a holiday and there was cause to celebrate.

The artillery commenced even before it was dusk and the booming kept going well into the night. Seeing that only a limited number of generally wimpy fireworks are allowed by state law – sparklers and the like – one has to wonder where all this heavy duty stuff comes from. Certainly, there is no effort to shut it down.

That’s OK, I suppose, if nobody gets hurt and the show doesn’t drag late into the night.

As a kid, I recall the thrill of lighting my first inch-long firecracker and graduating to a cherry bomb. It was not only scary, but offered a feeling of power I had never experienced. I never got to rockets, other than the ones I tried to build myself, and the bigger charges. We didn’t have access to them as kids and later on I was never compelled to spend money on something so fleeting.

One of my cousins, however, could be counted on to have a supply of bottle rockets and more serious explosives for those family gatherings. It made him the hit of the evening and nobody seemed to mind that it was on his dime, either.

Call me old school, or just plain crotchety; I think fireworks should be reserved for the Fourth of July. This rat-tat-tat of firecrackers, boom or bombs and sky bursts for no apparent cause leaves me wondering what people are thinking, but then maybe they’re not.

Fireworks for the end of summer?

No. Save them for our independence and the start of summer.


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