FOURTH OF JULY IS FOR FIREWORKS!
The Early Adventures of a Lifelong Pyromaniac
You probably wouldn’t guess it just by looking at me, but underneath the suburban dad surface, I’m actually a bit of a pyromaniac, and nothing brings that out quite like the Fourth of July! Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had a fascination with fireworks. Back then, M-80s, firecrackers, and bottle rockets were near the top of my list, but as I got older, I got into the bigger stuff — not just fountains and ground spinners but also missiles, rockets, and the aerial repeaters. Growing up in Wisconsin, someone in my neighborhood was always able to procure the illegal fireworks around the Fourth of July, and we had a great time celebrating, even though the police were called on our festivities several times! I’m not sure about all of the rules and regulations today, but back when I moved to California in 1982, fireworks and firecrackers were also illegal. My chance of celebrating a typical Fourth of July was slim to none. To get around this, my buddy and I had the brilliant (or in retrospect, not so brilliant) idea of smuggling in a big shipment of fireworks from a manufacturer he’d found in South Dakota. Our thought was to have the $2,000 worth of fireworks delivered to my parents’ home in Wisconsin, then have my mom send them via UPS to California. Of course, that didn’t quite work out as planned. My mom found out what we were plotting and refused to help, and if I’d thought about it, I would have realized that UPS would never have taken explosives anyway. Still, my buddy and I weren’t going to give up that fast! We bought the fireworks anyway and had them sent to my parents’ home in Wisconsin. After I finished my first year at Michigan State University, I was going to be heading back out to California for a summer internship at Poppy Hills Golf Course on the Monterey Peninsula. I loaded the fireworks into my pickup truck and drove them back to the Golden State. My friend and I had the brilliant idea to sell the fireworks on the black market when the Fourth of July came around and double our profits, in addition to lighting a few off ourselves, so we had to store them in the meantime. My brother wouldn’t let me stash them in his garage because he was worried they were a fire hazard, but my buddy said we could store them in his garage because his dad wouldn’t care. It seemed like the perfect plan.
fireworks! The $3,000 or $4,000 of profit we had in our sights went up in smoke, and that was the end of my little dream of getting rich as a fireworks smuggler.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I can see how hairbrained our scheme was, but I haven’t lost my love of fireworks. Every year, I drive to the fireworks stand about 15 minutes from my house and buy a few hundred dollars’ worth to light off for my family, friends, and neighbors. Once, I doubled down and set off fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve, too, but usually I just stick to the Fourth. With the stress of the pandemic and all of our local Fourth of July parades and fireworks shows being canceled, I’m really looking forward to a night of explosions, fun, and pretty lights to indulge my inner pyromaniac. Hopefully I get my wish!
Here’s to a fantastic Fourth,
Unfortunately, our good luck didn’t last. A few weeks later, my friend left his garage door open one night, and somebody snuck in and stole all of our
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