Thursday, July 05, 2007

Up in Smoke

Watching the truly impressive neighborhood fireworks show last night that went on (and on and on) for hours after the official Big Show on the Mall, I have to confess that I rather enjoyed it. There was a little girl visiting a neighbor who was ecstatically dancing out on the sidewalk and saying "I love firecrackers, I love firecrackers." I kinda understand where she was coming from. ( I don't really love firecrackers, but I do like the big chrysanthemum blooms or whatever they're called.) I have fond memories of setting off fireworks myself when I was a kid in pre-OSHA days. Somehow, officially-sanctioned displays don't quite carry the same excitement.

I know a lot of people have complained about the noise and safety issues, and who's to disagree? DCist and Off Seventh carry a picture of a kid holding what looks like a roman candle in his hand. Brian quite properly asks why any parent would let her child do that? And why cops would stand idly by while kids (and adults, I'm sure) aim rockets and roman candles at houses and people? Good points. I was glad that it had rained a bit beforehand, otherwise I think we might have seen a lot more fires started from all the carelessness.

I get a little sick of the noise too. However, this was nothing compared with my second night after arriving in Brazil in 1973 which turned out to be St. John's Day when all hell breaks loose all night long. That really did sound like being in the middle of an artillery bombardment--incredible! So all things are relative, I suppose. And I do appreciate the spontaneous quality of the DIY fireworks displays, which after all are a kind of tradition--like it or not--in DC.

A couple of other thoughts occur, however:

Who pays for all this stuff? Those aren't just sparklers and fountains. What I saw exploding over the 'hood was some serious Bang, and those things don't come cheap. There are a lot of towns whose municipal displays wouldn't have equalled what went up within a block of 5th and O. I figure at least several thousand dollars went up in smoke there last night--not to mention the previews on preceding nights. Okay, people can spend their money according to their own priorities, but literally blowing that much money into smithereens doesn't make much sense to me, unless you really have it to burn.

Why have laws banning fireworks if the cops won't enforce them? Unenforced laws just encourage contempt for law in general. Maybe a couple of retailers were busted this year, but it's obvious that the police make no attempt to do anything about people shooting off prohibited fireworks, which include pretty much everything but sparklers. So why not quit pretending to ban anything except the most dangerous of fireworks, but go after the idiots who are endangering others by their reckless use of these things? Otherwise, it just seems like one more example of turning a blind eye.

Just sayin'.


At 7/05/2007 1:35 PM, Blogger si said...

Down in the south end people were lighting off some very impressive displays in the parking lots. I could see huge displays in all directions and stayed out for the 2nd show. They have gotten bigger & badder.
It could be much worse. I spent new years in brussels one year and it was packed with riled up young men lighting off projectile firecrackers into the dense crowds. We had to escape the central square in favor of the side street or risk injury. It was like a mosh pit. with fireworks.

At 7/05/2007 4:14 PM, Blogger OffSeventh said...

Good points as always Daddy 5-Oh...truthfully I could care less about the fireworks but my question will be to anyone who sees banning fireworks as not the way to deal with the issue...what are you going to do when a kid gets injured?

At 7/06/2007 4:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These young people who set off these projectile firecrackers like Roman Candles are often misguided and narcissistic.

dick johnson

At 7/06/2007 7:56 AM, Anonymous cameragal said...

I have to say the view from the roof top on 5th and N was great, there were "fire shows" in all directions, before and after the big show downtown. And unlike most years they were really great. They had all the height and boom as if they were offcially produced. And as far as I know there wasn't any incidents, I really enjoyed myself this year. It was one of the betters times in our area

At 7/08/2007 7:26 PM, Anonymous Mr. Ray said...

You're not going to ban the fireworks. Fireworks, on the Mall and on the streets, have always been a hallmark of life in DC. Before home rule, fireworks were the gentle nod of the Commission's noblesse oblige to DC's completely disenfranchised residents. Congress still thinks they can buy of DC residents with liberal fireworks laws and pyrotechnics on the Mall. But please be cognizant of the fact, neighbors, that fireworks can set your house on fire if burning embers land on and ignite bone dry yards or flammsble materials on your deck or roof.


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