Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fire Season, Fireworks Season, or Both?

It's July. Does that mean it's fire season, or fireworks season? The answer, of course, is both, and that can be a problem.

We wait until July, when all the weeds are dried out and everything is at peak flammability, and then we light the fuse and send exploding fire bombs up into the air! And, just in case it wasn't quite dry enough on the 4th of July, here in Utah we let things dry out for 20 more days and try it again! (The 24th of July is a holiday in Utah called Pioneer Day, and the pioneers were well known for hard work, handcarts, and extravagant firework displays.)

As Brigham Young used to say, "This is the place for fireworks!"

Why July? Wouldn't it make more sense to light up the sky when the ground is covered with snow on Valentine's Day or President's Day? How about Thanksgiving? Wouldn't fireworks go great with cranberry sauce? Maybe even St. Patrick's Day when everything is green? Nope, we insist on dry July.

Fortunately, the local fire departments work hard to keep everyone safe. Most of them have restrictions set up as to where fireworks can and cannot be discharged. The problem comes when Hank down the street ignores the warnings and lights off the $60 Walmart pack, or, worse yet, some of the shoot-em-up-in-the-air fireworks purchased semi-legally across the state line. (I think Brigham got his fireworks in Evanston, Wyoming, just like everyone else.)

Even if Hank doesn't set the neighborhood ablaze, we still have to deal with him setting off firecrackers at all hours of the night. I've never understood the appeal of firecrackers: Yippee, they make a loud noise! I could get the same result by going around and hitting random people on the thumb with a hammer, only the loud noises I would be creating would be more colorful.

And then there are sparklers. Sparklers are the "kid toy" of the fireworks set. We light them on fire, hand them to a kid, and say, "Here's a stick on fire. Feel free to wave it around wildly, just be sure not to light your clothes on fire with it. And keep it away from your sister's hair, okay? Oh, and while you're holding it, the flame will be inching ever so closer to burning your hand off. Have fun!"

Now, I may have given you the impression that I don't like fireworks. That's not true: I love a good PROFESSIONAL fireworks show. When people who KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING stage fireworks shows while working in conjunction with the local fire departments to keep everyone safe, I'm all for it. These professional firework shows are beautiful and fantastic! (I just wish the finale would last a little longer.)

This piece originally appeared on the front page of the July 2017 edition of the ServeDaily newspaper. It can be found online here. I tinkered with it and made a few changes before posting it here to my blog. Read them both and see if you can spot the differences.

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