One of the ways Americans often celebrate July 4th is by attempting to set themselves, their loved ones, and everything around them on fire. At least in those states where fireworks can be bought and set off privately. I can happily report that my state is one of those, as long as said fireworks do not shoot off into the air. And as someone nearby attested to, "illegal" and "unable to get and use" can be two entirely different things.
Which isn't to say that you need air burst fireworks to do damage. The first firework we tried to set off was a barrel-like fountain, except when we lit it? The damn thing simply exploded. And I mean "where'd it go" honestly exploded. There was a moment of sparks and fizzling and then just BAM, no more barrel. I still don't know where all the pieces went, although apparently one of them did hit one of the spectators on the (shoe-covered) foot. This is why we run away after we light a fuse. Heaven knows if I hadn't I wouldn't be writing this blog post right now.
After that, we started working our way through the rest of the stuff we bought and managed to do fairly well for ourselves. Then another firework we got had some kind of flaw. All I know is that there was an explosion that tipped the thing over and pointed it right at the spectators. That would have been bad even if they hadn't been sitting on the front steps of the house with the entire rest of our arsenal stacked up in front of them. You don't know fear until you're sitting there with a live firework pointed right at a pile of similar fireworks, not knowing if it has the range to hit those fireworks with flaming things. Thankfully, it did not, but those were some tense few moments indeed.
And after all that, still no actual fire. Which meant, of course, that we had to create some. We usually set fireworks on a cardboard box, if only so that there's some barrier between hot sparks and the grassy front lawn, and it has become a tradition that the box does not survive the experience. By any means necessary. This year, that meant lining strings of firecrackers across the top of the box practically two deep, creating basically a wave of fire across the box that left it smoldering. (I really need to remember to pack a video camera for these things.)
Of course, that's still not destroyed. So then we moved on to the sparklers, laying six whole boxes (30 sparklers) across the top in an intricate pattern in which one sparkler would light... usually two or three before fizzling out itself. It took several minutes for the entire pattern to burn out, but the entire box was openly burning long before then. In fact, our pattern broke somewhere, leaving some of it untouched... and the box relit the sparklers for us. Oh, and this is also when we learned that there were some unexploded firecrackers still sitting on the box. When they started randomly exploding, I mean.
Needless to say, in between the faulty fireworks and the box adventures, I am honestly surprised we survived the evening without a 911 call. Grateful that we had a bucket of water and contingency plans for trouble, even if those plans were kinda basic. And I'm kinda wondering... how did this became the preferred method of celebrating anything?