Saturday, July 5, 2008

Where were you July 4th?

So...where were you July 4th? Got any good stories?

I was on a friend's packed rooftop in DC. Good time, not all that unusual. But one thing did strike me as unusual. All around the building, random people were lighting off their own fireworks. More of my story after this, from the DC Examiner:

D.C. police [said] they're expecting thousands of calls to come in from people reporting illicit fireworks and other pyrotechnic complaints.

Authorities are asking residents to remain patient. Fourth District Commander Linda Brown says the response will take time, because the call volume will be "tremendous."

Okay, so maybe it's not so unusual. But it was for me. I've truly never seen anything like last night - pretty much every side of this building had people lighting off fireworks in the street below.

A semi-professional looking van in a parking lot across the street did a pretty good job, actually. Unlike regular fireworks which explode far away, these had the illusion of exploding far away but actually were just a couple hundred yards away. Was pretty neat - and seemed well under control.

But what kind freaked me out were kids in the street below lighting off their own. They were down. We were up. They were shooting fireworks up in the air with no quality control what-so-ever.

I looked around and others didn't seem concerned. So, I generally went on with my life. Until every once in a while...BOOM! One would explode fairly close to the roof. I looked around again. Several people looked back--their eyes showing their sense of alarm too. But the majority of the crowd was just fine. So nobody moved. This went on for a couple hours.

Eventually, though, one came exceedingly close to us. It was practically exploding in front of our faces. I yelled, "Abandon ship!" and rushed to a lower area of the patio (it was a two floor patio -- lower one more insulated). I actually can't claim to be a leader of masses at that moment. The people on the lower-level agreed with me, but most others stayed up top. Until...a couple more fireworks later, when they all came down too. (Victory!)

As I walked home, I heard illegal fireworks going off all around me. I felt like I was in a war-torn city.

Overall, a fun fourth. But, I think I've accidentally become radicalized into an anti-illegal fireworks avenger. Didn't mean for that to happen. Never thought about it that much before. But now, I'm thinking, "No mercy. Lock em up." 4th District Commander Linda Brown, if you need any witnesses to testify at trial or some volunteer cops next year to make arrests, count me in!


Anonymous said...

I was on a boat. And fell off when the fireworks were happening. Rather awkward.

Sarah said...

I was ... well, not in DC for the 4th. (I was in Chicago, where people only got shot.) But I remember a couple of years ago, the Kennedy Center had some sort of Chinese New Year extravaganza, complete with fireworks. The next day, the cops reported that people in the surrounding neighborhood were freaking out because they hadn't been warned and thought there were, you know, explosions around DC.

Personally, I'm terrified of fire, so I'm all for controlling fireworks. But they're technically illegal in Illinois, and that hasn't really stopped anyone from getting them as far as I can tell, so I'm not sure a crackdown in DC would be that effective. (And to be fair, there were some really pretty miniature hot-air balloon type things that I saw yesterday.) Also, I did have a pang of environmentalist guilt over all these unnecessary explosions. Anyone hear about any carbon-neutral fireworks shows?

KSchrad said...

I spent the 4th watching the fireworks on the mall, which was great, until I had to walk home from the metro and encounter A LOT of amateur firework in Columbia Heights. Seriously, it sounded like a war and I thought I was going to lose a hand or my face. I agree that amateur fireworks are bad, especially when mixed with the alcohol consumption that typically takes place on July 4th.

But, in the wake of the Supreme Court's handgun decision, I'll take illegal fireworks over people shooting off rounds into the street.