The 4th of July conjures many images in my mind, but to me the most important part of celebrating our great nation’s birthday is with the grandest birthday candles for all to enjoy- fireworks. But you see, 8 years ago this native Bay Area girl and her family (then only husband and one infant son) packed up and moved to El Dorado County, home to national forests, Lake Tahoe, and high fire danger, so we quickly discovered fireworks are illegal here.
Logically I understand why fireworks are a no-no in our town, but still I always feel a little envious on the 4th when I see my neighbors right down the hill, less than a mile from here, who live in Sacramento County, purchasing fireworks from those makeshift huts in strip malls and then planning their annual neighborhood block parties where they can set off those fireworks for their kids to enjoy. I grew up in a neighborhood like that. Walking around with a sparkler, spelling my name in the air, and then watching my Dad with the other Dads let off those popping, knee-level crackers was one of the early thrills of my life.
Then there were the years as a kid when we’d go to a nearby overhead fireworks show on the 4th of July. We’d bring our blankets, wait for it to get dark, and it was never crazily crowded because there were so many different ones going on at the same time.
Our city has one regulated fireworks show, but it’s not on July 4th, but on the 1st or 2nd, and it’s packed tighter than all the hot dogs prepped to be grilled at a summer barbecue, with people leaving their cars early the day before to get a spot. Plus, the bratty Veruca Salt in me thinks, “But Daddy, I want them (fireworks) on the 4th!”
My sister invites us to her town’s fabulous 4th celebration every year, where the fireworks are so close you can feel the heat on your face, but it’s 100 miles away and my husband usually needs to work the next day and/or he wants to mingle at a party in our own community.
One time I bought some firecrackers from one of those paying places down the road and brought them home to a 4th of July barbecue we hosted that year. Bad idea…the fire inspector for another city is a friend of ours in attendance and I think I put him in a precarious position. One crackle and the look on his face ended it all. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Last year we went to the rodeo, which is held nightly over several days, so I made sure we bought our tickets for the actual 4th. It was great, and definitely the closest I’d come to enjoying the 4th again. Not only did we get a magnificent light and firework spectacle at the end, everything else Americana is at the rodeo too: mutton busters, bull riding, American flags, and country music.
So this year we’ve been invited to a family’s legendary party in our town.
Supposedly it’s so much fun, no one even misses the fireworks. I have high hopes.