Even though it's hard to tell by looking out the window, July 4 is nearly upon us. This holiday celebration, the commemoration of our country's independence from a foreign monarchy and a clarion call for personal liberty that echoed around the world, has become an excuse to squander money, irritate your neighbors and torture animals.
Yes, I'm going to complain about fireworks.
I will admit, when my sons were younger (30 years ago), we would make a trip to a local fireworks stand, run by Boy Scouts or the Lions Club, and blow $25 for a cardboard box filled with cheap thrills. We'd go to an empty lot, far away from homes or businesses, and supervise the kids as they set off the bottle rockets and made patterns in the sky with sparklers. It was an hour of fun that, while hardly necessary, didn't hurt anybody.
Those "safe and sane" stands still exist, and the organizations that run them depend on the income to fund many worthy community service programs. If a family decides to splurge on their own cardboard box of cheap thrills, and if the kids in that family are supervised properly while setting off the fireworks during the lawful period set by the cities and county, and if the family then cleans up the mess left behind by the fireworks...more power to them.
Of course, those relatively harmless fireworks sellers have to compete with the tribal fireworks juggernaut, which is shown every year to attract vendors selling dangerous, illegal explosives to youngsters. Every year the noise from illegal fireworks, purchased from Boom City and similar outlets, annoys neighbors, frightens animals and causes fires. I haven't done a scientific study, of course, but I would bet that most of the explosions that occur beyond the legal timeframe for fireworks discharge are not the "safe and sane" type. Just a guess.
Several cities in Snohomish County have banned the discharge of fireworks completely. Judging from the letters and phone calls we receive here at the paper during the days immediately following July 4, such a ban would seem to be a popular decision in Marysville and Arlington. That wouldn't protect those who live in unincorporated Snohomish County, but it would be a start.
In the meantime, here's a plea to local residents who like to celebrate the 4th of July with displays of fire in the sky: Keep it legal and respect your neighbors. And don't forget that the City of Arlington offers a big, professional fireworks show at Quake Park that evening-free, and they'll clean up the mess!
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