I love a good fireworks display. When we were children our city park used to have them every year. My mom and dad would line our side yard (we lived a block from the park) with lawn chairs and we’d enjoy popsicles, sparklers and all the works while waiting and then sit and watch the display. When I lived in San Diego we drove to a hillside to watch the big display and tuned our radios to hear the symphony orchestra play a choreographed song list. Raising my own children, the Minton Street gang would meet at a business on Plymouth Road and have a little “block party” while we watched. Later years we would make the trek to the Spree every year with our wagon, cooler and some card games to play while we waited for THE EVENT. The kids would come and go to the Spree and then we’d all meet back at dark. I have very precious memories of 4th of July fireworks.
I’ll admit that I’m ignorant of the history of fireworks laws in Michigan or anywhere else in this country. But it seems that over the past 5 years or so everyone and their brother (or sister) can purchase and shoot of a great variety of fireworks from their homes, vacant lots, parking lots and where ever their fancy strikes. Last summer it seemed it went on for the entire summer. This year Michigan changed the laws to only allow private fireworks during a shorter timeframe, with time limits. (Thank goodness because no one needs to hear M80s going off at half hour intervals after midnight.) This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion.
I LOVE my memories of attending fireworks displays. I’m grateful that my children will have those same types of memories. But I’m fearful that my grandchildren will grow up hating fireworks, or at best be ambivalent about them. Fireworks are not an “occasion” any more. They aren’t special when every night you can drive to the local school playground and watch a watered-down version that someone picked up to shoot off with friends. Instead, they will grow up with the sounds of BOOMS and POPS and ZZZZZZZ going off while they try to sleep each night in July. They’ll see those little sparks that rise above their treetops and believe that THIS is what a fireworks display looks like and be disinterested in the preparation and trek to see the REAL displays.
These two videos (with sound only because it’s dark) I’ve attached here were taken an hour apart in my front yard. As you can see in the one, no fireworks were visible in the sky, although we could occasionally see a bit of sparks above the trees. This sound went on for THREE SOLID HOURS before it began to taper off. And it wasn’t just my neighborhood. I’m sure you all have similar stories if you live in a city and not out in the country where people are more spread out. Last night was the actual holiday, although with the weekend ahead, I’m sure it will be the same.
Imagine putting your two-year-old down to sleep during that noise. Picture all the pets hiding in the basements with radios blaring to drown out the sound – afraid to go outside to use the bathroom at night. Or having to medicate your pet to get them through the trauma. Imagine if you will, all the combat vets (we all know some) who struggle with memories of war zones, whether they have been diagnosed with PTSD or not.
I am not being a hater. I love fireworks displays as much as the next person. But they are losing their shine as they destroy the peaceful quality of a summer’s evening. Michigan is moving in the right direction with regard to private fireworks displays but has a way to go.