Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July! + Legal Iowa Fireworks!

Happy July 4th! I hope everyone is out there celebrating Independence Day to it's fullest. Wither it is with a good old fashion grill out with the family or simply staying at home and enjoying a pitcher of ice cold Cherry Kool-Aid in the hot summer weather. The 4th of July brings about many different traditions for many different people. Personally, I have never been all that fond of the Holiday. While the idea of lighting things with short fuses that explode into a dazzling array of colors might seem like something that would be right up my ally, it's really not. In part because July 4th is a holiday aimed towards children and it really starts to loose its appeal the older you get. This is a fate that technically every holiday suffers from but in the end Christmas is Christmas and Halloween is Halloween and your never really too old to stop enjoying either one of those. The 4th of July on the other hand, I have been there and I have done that. It's basically just another hot July day to me. I find the holiday to be to loud, to hot, to in your face, and to patriotic of a day for me to really enjoy it.

While I do not feel like it shapes up in any way to its bigger brothers at the end of the year, July 4th does have one tradition that will always stand the test of time. I am of course talking about fireworks. I really do not know why we light fireworks to celebrate our independence here in America, but who am I to question such things? I like the concept of fireworks and find it fascinating to say the least. They are dangerous little things that probably shouldn't be used by children and around 80% of all adults, sold for dirt cheap from makeshift tents for a couple weeks a year. That is pretty cool. However I do not live in a state that gets exploding fireworks sold by shady characters via oversized tent, I live in Iowa. We get the leftover crap that real states with real fireworks laugh at and call silly names. Today we are going to take a look at some Legal Iowa Fireworks!


Before we begin, I just wanted to say that something odd has seemingly happened over the years. As I mentioned before I really do not pay close attention to the 4th of July anymore. It comes and goes without much of a blimp on my radar. Therefore it came as quite a shock when I went to the store to purchase some fireworks for this article and found only three to choose from. I have heard grumblings for years now that even the crappy fireworks that I grew up with were considered "too dangerous" to be sold in stores but never really imagined that 90% of them would have been taken off from store shelves. So I apologize ahead of time if this article is a little on the short side but this is really all we have to work with folks. No more smoke bombs, no more snaps, heck I couldn't even find morning glory sparklers sold in any store around here. It's unfortunate because I was really looking forward to taking a bunch of photo and video for this article. Instead we sort of just have to make due with what we have. So enjoy the only three things that qualify as fireworks here in Iowa!

What we do have are Assorted Color Snakes. These things are as old as time itself and just about as much fun as watching paint dry. I feel like everyone at some point ends up with packages of these things, even in the states that allow for more than three options of firework. Snakes are these awful little round pellets that you lay on the ground and attempt to light with a lighter but it never quite works correctly. More times than not you just end up burning the tip of your thumb and cursing loudly to yourself while the neighbors wonder what your doing to the sidewalk in front of your house. Assuming you finally do get one of the stupid things lit it grows for about .10th of a second before turning into something that can vaguely be interpreted as a Snake.

Mostly though, it just looks like a cat shit on the sidewalk. This package allows for different colored versions of cat shit for your lighting amusement. Did I mention that Snakes are a horribly un-fun experience to have? Well they are. It has to be some sort of twisted, cruel joke that out of the three items that have managed to survive the legal system here in Iowa that Snakes is one of them. Nobody wants these goofy little things. Not now. Not ever. And I have a package that contains eight boxes, each box has five of the stupid things inside of them. Thus giving me what roughly amounts to a lifetime supply of Snakes. I guess no matter what else goes on in my life, I will always have these  Snakes to fall back on. Somehow that doesn't help.

The second item on today's list are Sparklers, a July 4th tradition. Sparklers used to come in many different sizes, colors, and other variations but sadly I could only find one size and one color. Not that there is anything wrong with Gold Sparklers but I always used to prefer the Morning Glory kind. I feel like there is not much that can be said about Sparklers that has not already been said many times before. They are a tired but true firework, one that is suitable for children of any age despite the massive warnings all over the box. I have never been all to clear as to how exactly one is supposed to use a Sparkler, presumably you hold onto them in your hand and run around the lawn. Realistically, you throw them directly at your friends face. Bonus points if you manage to hit an eye or other vital organ.

I always preferred to stick my Sparklers directly into the ground and design intricate shapes and patterns. I remember spending hours drawing up plans in an old spiral notebook before finally settling on a design. For anyone wondering how that process worked basically what I would do is lay out every single variation of Sparkler I had in front of me and then think up the craziest way imaginable to incorporate everything all at once. So while all the other kids were outside messing around with lesser fireworks, like Snakes... I would be inside creating a masterpiece of epic Sparkler proportions! Of course I would typically only spend a couple minutes re-creating the finished design but when your eight years old it is the thought that counts, not the finished product.

Naturally anything that I created would be the grand finale of the evening. In my mind I had a reputation to live up to and every year I challenged myself to craft a bigger and better final display. As the years went on and my interested in the holiday peaked around age twelve or thirteen things evolved from simple ground Sparklers to designs that included boards, nails, and imported illegal fireworks from out of state. Those designs reached near fire hazard levels as they typically involved using things not as instructed by the package. This was clearly when The 4th of July as a holiday reached it's summit. For you see there are only so many times you can drag the family into the back yard and have them watch poorly constructed firework displays before it's just not acceptable behavior anymore. Shortly into my teens my interest in the holiday faded to the point that now I no longer really care if its the 4th... 5th... or 6th of July. I mostly just want the hot sticky weather to be over with so I can move onto the better holidays at the end of the year.

But you know what, this is why I love writing this blog so much. For you see if I had not decided to write about Iowa Fireworks I would have had no reason to purchase a package of Sparklers. Without said package of Sparklers I would not have sat down and remembered those fond memories of my childhood, back when the holiday actually felt like it meant something. When sticking Sparklers into the ground was cool and creating grand finale's was all mine. That is why I love doing what I do and I hope it helps to remind everyone else to slow and and enjoy the little things in life again.

I feel like we have deviated far off course from what this post was originally going to be about, Legal Iowa Fireworks. I was going to change the title but I already created the logo for this article and I'm not one to do things twice. Besides, the lack of options really prevailed and forced me to write about other things, but I think it turned out better that way. As the third and final firework of the evening sort of sums up just how bad the things I had to choose from in store isles were this year. It was so stupid of an item that I didn't even purchase it, instead you get this crappy stock photo to look at. I'm sorry but Party Poppers are not fireworks. As far as I am concerned they do not even fall under the broadest definition of the word. "Fire" as in you have to light something "works" as in it does something. Party Poppers do neither. You pull a string and little stupid pieces of confetti sort of fall from the front of it. It's boring. It's better suited for Birthday Parties and New Years Eve celebrations than July 4th. Even if you were stuck with only Snakes, which up until me writing this sentence had been my least favorite of the bunch, at the very least you got to play (typically unsupervised) with matches and a lighter. Party Poppers do not even give you the satisfaction of  maybe accidentally starting a forest fire. Snakes, at the very minimum, allow you to burn things.Which is basically the root of what makes having fireworks fun in the first place. Party Poppers just flat out suck and anyone caught playing with one should be ridiculed immediately. Bonus points for throwing Sparklers at his/her face.

That is it. Those are the options that kids get to play with on The 4th of July here in Iowa. Sparklers, Snakes, and Party Poppers. I could go onto some sort of multi-paragraph tirade about how things like this are ultimately the reason why we have an obesity problem here in the United States (giving kids only THREE types of fireworks is pretty much promoting staying inside and playing Call of Duty instead of going outside and running around the back yard) but this is an entertainment blog... not a political blog, so I will save everyone from that fiasco. Instead I will once again wish everyone a Happy 4th of July! Be sure to post your favorite memories, traditions, or vacations down in the comment section and stay safe! (and as a quick reminder if you are in the mood for some GREAT music to listen to over the 4th of July weekend be sure to check out the SUMMER JUKEBOX which is active down at the very bottom of the main page!)

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