Sparks Were Flying

I always felt very adventurous on the Fourth of July. I have memories of running mindlessly through my front yard with a sparkler in each hand. I am paranoid about fire so I always made sure to stand the farthest from the assortment of erupting volcanic cones, whistling fountains of exploding red and blue sparks, bombs that simply smoked (good for driving away mosquitoes), and spinners that gave off eerie green and gold lights as they whirled in the center of our driveway. Does that sound like your childhood as well? Good memories there for many of us. However, this yearly childhood ritual of exploding fireworks in celebration of a national holiday hasn't been officially shared with my children. Why? Because we live in Los Angeles.

The official stance on the fireworks issue is fantastically worded. " The Los Angeles Fire Department reminds you that all fireworks, even the so-called "safe and sane" variety are illegal in the City of Los Angeles! Those who use, possess or merely transport any type of fireworks are subject to severe penalty."

Hmm. It sounds good. It makes sense in such a fire-prone area of the world. In theory, parents here don't have to worry about blowing their hands off because they don't know how to properly light the fuse to some exploding volcanic cone. Maybe I'm lucky that I can't go to the local Rite Aid, Sav-on, Vons or Albertsons and purchase fireworks.

Instead of blowing stuff up, we have a yearly Fourth of July ritual where we drive over to Reservoir Street, just east of Coronado, and watch the fireworks blasting off from Dodger Stadium. Last night, we had to stop several times because folks were lighting the same fountains, cones and whirling spinners I enjoyed as a child. Except, they were lighting them in the middle of the street. Going eastbound up Bellevue was an impossibility because of all the fireworks being set off in the streets. For a minute there, I thought the city-wide ban on fireworks had ended. Of course, it hasn't.

We finally arrived, parked and got ready for the moment the lights dim in the stadium and the first rumble of the fireworks begins. This year, the fireworks from Dodger Stadium were nice, but they were being rivaled in size and beauty by the rockets being set off simultaneously from private residences around us. The general Silverlake/Echo Park/East Hollywood area last night was ablaze with the cascading sparks of exploding bottle rockets and the popping and whistling of a thousand fountains of light.

But where does everyone else get their stash of sparklers? I don't have to cross state lines or anything. I can simply drive a half hour south to the City of Lakewood and buy some fantastic stuff. In fact, I think most of my neighbors must have done this in preparation for the 4th this year. It makes me wonder though, why have the law if the city won't enforce it? Would my sons do so much damage if they had some sparklers to run around with? Would they set the neighborhood on fire with the "safe and sane" variety of fireworks?

I've seen a definite increase in the amount of fireworks being set off in my neighborhood, but I still want to obey the law. Every year there are probably people who want to enjoy some fireworks but they don't want to break the law. Then they see that half their neighbors are breaking the law, and nothing happens to those neighbors. People decide that next year, they will get the fireworks too, because everybody's doing it. I'm still not driving to Lakewood anytime soon so I'll keep on enjoying the sparks flying from other people's houses.


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