A pretty impressive fireworks display… In my own driveway!

I remember my early days of being a teenager and living in Colorado where fireworks were illegal. There were too many stories of young kids hurting themselves, starting fires, blowing things up which lead to the ban. Anything more than a sparkling cone was considered going over the line. (Sparklers and “snakes” still make me shudder with how lame they are). Those were young kids, we were teenagers, we could blow things up, throw them at each other and be reckless without hurting ourselves. This lead to the yearly pilgrimage to Wyoming where fireworks were legal and by happenstance as soon as you crossed the border a large prominent stand greeted you.

We would borrow a van from one guy’s dad – and not a mini-van in any sense of the word. It was an old school, slow, heavy, gas sucking monstrosity with four captain’s chairs and bench seating in the back. By getting 10 miles to the gallon and having a 30 gallon gas tank, we spent more sneaking across the border than we did on the actual fireworks. Being a rebellious youth isn’t cheap.

Along with all the other people from Colorado buying fireworks we stocked up on all sorts of exploding, shooting excitement. We grabbed Black Cats, Roman Candles and Pop Bottle Rockets. If we had any gas money left over we go all out and get Shooting Missiles and big Pop Bottle Rockets.

We would then take all this over priced loot back home and proceed to come up with ingenious ways to launch them and blow things up. We chose new home construction sites, but kept on the move since the noise obviously let people know exactly where we were and I’m pretty sure we were trespassing.

The fireworks of today are in a class by themselves. Pop Bottle Rockets have given way to a version that’s 10 time bigger and not only does it have more “boom” with a huge burst of color, it screams across the night sky with a blazing orange trail behind it. Shooting Missiles now come in a pack of 25 “shells” that shoot a hundred feet in the air before exploding in a fiery burst of color. And my favorite of all, the firework that looks like a mortar you light and drop in the carefully constructed paper tube, which then blasts hundreds of feet in the air, gives a satisfying and chest thumping explosion and tops it all of with a huge flower of streaking color. I think I would have soiled myself at 16 to have owned such a thing.

A long 10 inch fuse like you expect to see on dynamite gives you that secure feeling you will make it to “minimum safe distance” once you light it. They come in a pack of 3 or 5 shells for only a few dollars. When all of your neighbors begin to blast these into the night sky and the air rumbles with the sounds of mortar blasts, you’re not whether you should stand in awe or be scared.

The fireworks display on the street becomes as impressive as any I remember seeing as a kid. Each section lights up as their sortie of munitions takes to the sky. You can hear the “whoosh” or whistle of the projectile as it hurls into space. When they hit their peak it’s like watching a tennis match as your head swing back and forth to take it all in. Huge, colorful, flowers burst in the sky, streaks of hot gunpowder make fanciful trails in the air, and flashes of massive Black Cats explode on the sidewalk giving a strobe light effect. Everyone’s a pyrotechnician sending volley after volley into the air and for about an hour it’s like a multi-million dollar extravaganza right on your own street.

And I have to laugh, because it’s all legal.



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