North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Fireworks have lost their sparkle


I didn’t get to any parades this 4th of July. Several other activities got in the way. So I had to spend time remembering those past Fourths that float through my head this time of year.

When a friend told me there were very few military or veterans at the Everett parade I found it rather sad. I grew up enjoying the excitement of parades. All the veterans’ organizations were well represented. The ones who couldn’t walk rode in flag draped cars. Along with the ROTC boys from high school, scouts and different church youth groups walked the main street and attempted to avoid slipping on the street car tracks. There were a few sprained ankles in the following days. But that was acceptable. The parade was always a success.

Fireworks were a large part of the evening. We all saved up to buy some. I liked the sparklers best. You bent the end of the wire, lit the crusty end. By holding that short bent part of the wire you could twirl them as they exploded into bright sparks of light. Somebody was always warning you not to hold them too close or you would get burnt. And you always forgot and had small scars to show the next day. Once in awhile someone got foolish and got hurt, but nobody objected that I knew.

By the time my kids were old enough to enjoy this evening ritual, the fireworks were becoming a little more powerful, and much more expensive. Not only to buy, but because they sometimes caused some damage. Gradually I began to develop a more cautious attitude towards fireworks.

Several unfortunate tragic incidents have made me nervous as the 4th grows near. And cities and towns where I have lived no longer are as tolerant. I’ve come to think that is a good thing, but not really given it a lot of thought.

For several years I have been the guest of some very nice friends, whose home overlooks Port Gardner Bay, and have enjoyed the Everett celebration. That is enough excitement for me these days. I then go home to sleep in peace. Until this year.

Fifteen minutes after I arrived home I heard a commotion outside my open bedroom window. My son had just left the house to give Owen the dog his nightly walk, and I saw him stop, then run down the street. Shortly after two fire engines raced by, and stopped a few houses down the block. I ran outside to see what was happening. A number of trees were on fire. It was very near a neighbor’s house. My son had pounded on her door to let her know. Others were using hoses. Her car was way too close for comfort. By then the whole neighborhood was in the street. I met some neighbors I have never met before. It was an exciting ending to the evening, but not so good for the neighbor.

I walked down to visit her today. She was washing her pretty red Nissan. It has some damage, and she wasn’t too happy. Neither was I. Our houses are very close on this street, and about 30 years old. It could have been a much bigger disaster. Somebody got careless, and it could have cost much more—even a life. I don’t think the fireworks are worth the price.

Maybe we should consider not having this kind of fun in our neighborhoods. Maybe the cost could be too high. I’ll not be as happy about the 4th next year. Nobody wants their house to burn down. The fun isn’t worth it.

And TV had the better show, anyway.


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