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I Don’t Think I Like Fireworks Like I Used To

A man lights sparklers for a young girl
(Photo: Getty/David McNew/Newsmakers)

When I was a kid I loved fireworks season. The excitement began building we I’d see the little fireworks stand would appear in the ALCO parking lot. A couple days later the proprietor would swing the board on the front open, prop it up with a bit of wood and the days of explosions began. I’d ride my bike to the stand and cozy up to the counter with my handful of paper-route money. All that cold, hard cash going to fill a paper sack with firecrackers, groundblooms, tanks and smokeballs. Oh, and don’t forget my complementary punk.

I’d race home as fast as my huffy would roll. If it was a particularly good year, my brother and I would have been able to scrounge up some big pieces of packing styrofoam. Firecrackers would blow them up real nice.

We’d have tank face-offs, blow-up spent smokeballs and get excited when we were able to drop a firecracker just right so it exploded in a bucket of water.

We’s also be all jealous of those neighbor kids, who’s parents went across the boarder to Wyoming and got them bottlerockets. On our side of the boarder, in western Nebraska, we couldn’t have cool fireworks like bottlerockets or M-80s. But, I do remember the glorious summer that Nebraska legalized inch-and-a-halfers. Many ageing action-figures paid a heavy price that year.

When I moved to South Dakota a number of years ago, I was excited to live in a state where I could finally get all those verboten fireworks from my youth. But, something had changed in me. It was one of the first times I’d noticed that I’d really become an adult

First off, of course you can’t legally do most of those fireworks in Sioux Falls. But, the first couple summers my family lived in the 605 we got some fireworks and went to a place we could get our Fall Out Boy on and light ’em up. We’d just moved and started new jobs so we didn’t really have the money to do it, but our young son wanted to so we did. Our son enjoyed them well enough, but all I could think was that I just lit a tank of gas worth of money on fire and watched it burn.

We spent the next few years traveling over July 4th so we didn’t worry about fireworks. Fast-forward to now and the family is home, the kids are older and we have a couple extra bucks to spend on a boom-boom good time. Except for now, I’m a homeowner; and every boom, sizzle and spark scares the smokeballs off of me.

I can’t even enjoy sparklers because all I’m thinking is “How dry is the lawn? Where’s the garden hose? Are we sure the insurance is paid up? No! Keep away from the deck! Let me fill the kiddie-pool and you can stand in it while you don’t wave the sparklers around.”

Snakes aren’t any better. “Watch that ash. Which way is the wind blowing?! OK we did one, now let’s soak the patio to be sure it’s out.”

Even my beloved smokeballs have lost their appeal. All I think about is if I closed all the windows. Because if not, inside will smell like we’re hosting a sulfur salesman seminar.

Sure, I’m probably exaggerating a bit. But, I’ve discovered that I enjoy fireworks like a 40-something homeowner. That means I like them far away and not my responsibility. Oh, I’m sure if I was at someone else’s house I might be down for some pyro fun. But, in my little section of the world, maturity is trying to take over. Oh no. What does that mean for my Star Trek toy collection?

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