Monday, July 5, 2021

Fireworks jerks?

Last Thursday was Canada Day, and Sunday (yesterday) was Fourth of July/Independence Day in the U.S.  Fireworks are a big part of the traditional celebrations in both countries -- but I've noticed more than a few people in my social media feeds and on blogs (Sue's "Unleashed in Oregon," for one) complaining about them, in recent years and over the past few days specifically.  

There are a lot of reasons why people might not appreciate fireworks. They can be highly traumatic for veterans and people who have lived in war zones (and there are lots of them in major urban areas like the one where I live).  They're also traumatic for pets and other animals. They can set off wildfires, especially in places where drought is a factor (and there are lots of those this year). 

This year, my country's Indigenous peoples/First Nations requested that Canada Day celebrations be cancelled or scaled back, out of respect for the very recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked children’s graves found near former residential schools (with many sure more to come), and the grief their communities were dealing with. (Would you like it if someone set off celebratory fireworks while you were mourning your dead child(ren)?)  Many official celebrations already were cancelled or scaled back because of the pandemic anyway (although there were several provinces that chose to lift some, most or all pandemic restrictions on July 1st).  

But judging by the steady barrage of fireworks set off in my neighbourhood alone over the weekend -- and reports of many others across the country -- not too many people seemed to have received the message. 

I loved fireworks when I was a kid -- but they only happened once or twice a year -- Victoria Day (May 24th) and (more commonly) Dominion Day/Canada Day (July 1st) -- and Fourth of July, if we happened to be at my grandmother's in Minnesota.  And there would be ONE community display, put on by the town or a local service organization, and everyone would come out to watch. Personal fireworks were mostly illegal, most places that I lived when I was growing up -- although I'm pretty sure that has gone by the wayside even in those places now. You could maybe buy some firecrackers and sparklers to light up in the back yard, and that was about it. 

These days (and especially in recent years), fireworks displays are EVERYWHERE.  They're easily purchased in the weeks leading up to the holiday from pop-up shops and trucks set up on street corners and in parking lots. We used to be able to see & hear fireworks from our suburban backyard when we had our house;  in the early years we lived there, the neighbours would take up a collection, buy some fireworks and set them off in the street. Dh used to fret about one landing on our roof & burning down the house.)  Here at our condo, we can see all kinds of fireworks from our windows and balcony -- some of them pretty spectacular -- and we sure can hear them. The barrage of noise went on steadily for hours on Thursday night. 

I still appreciate a good fireworks display these days, and I don't mind a little noise, for an hour or two after sunset, ON HOLIDAYS.  What I do mind is when the noise goes on ALL WEEKEND LONG, and for hours into the night -- and that's what's been happening more and more often lately. (Not to mention we've also been dealing with hours of honking car horns and cheering fans over the past few weeks every time Italy wins a game in the EuroCup soccer tournament...!)  Many people on social media said they thought this past holiday weekend, the noise was the worst they'd ever seen/heard.  I heard explosions going off well after midnight on Saturday night (when I was already in bed);  someone in my Facebook feed reported hearing fireworks going off at 2:30 a.m. last night/early this morning, when she had to get up for work.  People don't always stick to holiday weekends now either -- in recent summers, weekend fireworks have become a regular feature, even into the fall. I can remember asking dh on Labour Day last year when "back to school fireworks" became a thing...! 

I'm not sure why this is happening. I don't know whether people feel like they have to let off steam after being cooped up inside, not only during a long winter but a long year & a half of pandemic?  I've noticed that celebrations of all kinds just keep getting bigger and flashier these days -- more, more more.  Compare the simple kids' birthday parties my sister & I used to have and attend to today's extravaganzas.  Nowadays, you don't just go a wedding -- there's an engagement party, sometimes multiple bridal showers, a "Jack and Jill" or "Stag & Doe,"  multiple showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties (and not just parties but entire weekends, and not just weekends but "destination" weekends...!).  Come to think of it, I know fireworks get used at some weddings and gender reveals parties hereabouts.  

Personally, I think a lot of people have simply forgotten how to behave around others. I've heard so many reports of bad behaviour in so many different settings recently, not just related to fireworks displays.  Manners, common courtesy and common sense seem to have gone out the window.  The "I'm going to do what I want and if you don't like it, too bad" mindset certainly existed before the pandemic (and I think a certain U.S. president -- *cough* -- had a lot to do with modelling/encouraging this sort of behaviour recently), but the pandemic certainly hasn't helped. 

Late today, I heard that an errant firework was responsible, at least in part, for the death of the Columbus Blue Jackets (hockey team)'s 24-year-old goalie in a bizarre incident in a hot tub (!) in Novi, Michigan, last night. 

What do you think? 


  1. Interesting observations. I haven’t noticed fireworks in my “Wild West” city (I just assumed they are illegal or something, but I actually have no idea).

    When I lived in London and Athens it was a different story. People LOVED their fireworks and seemed to find any reason to set them off at multiple times of the year. There were English and Greek celebrations (Guy Fawkes day, Easter for example) but then also East Indian and Muslim holidays I couldn’t keep track of and everybody seemed happy to celebrate everything lol. I wonder if there is a cultural element to what you are observing as it does sound more “European multicultural” versus what I at least am familiar with in Canada.

  2. I think you're on to something with the second to last paragraph. I think it ties into a mentality that has always existed but emerges in different forms. Fireworks are illegal in my area. They were still going off all weekend.

  3. And then there's this:

  4. Fireworks are really only a thing here at New Year, and Guy Fawkes. It's not part of our national day at all. Though over the years, the sale of fireworks has been increasingly restricted, and is only permitted for four days a year, leading up to and including Guy Fawkes day (5 November). You can let them off any day of the year though, so obviously lots of people buy them in November and save them for New Year's Eve. There's been a huge backlash against fireworks in the suburbs, because of the effect they have on pets, and the risk of fires, not to mention regular people trying to sleep (it doesn't help that Guy Fawkes and New Year's are in the summer and it doesn't get dark enough for fireworks till around 10 pm). And so city councils increasingly are prepared to invest into public fireworks displays. I actually had to google to see if we were still allowed to buy them at all!

    Still, there's nothing quite like playing with a "sparkler" in the garden. I've managed to do that with Charlie once, I think. It's something I'd have enjoyed introducing to my kids.

    Damn, the lack of consideration for others is very disturbing, though.

  5. I'm in the US, and I despise fireworks. I didn't grow up with them- my only experience being burned when I was 5 with Sparklers my father's mother insisted I hold (I had ZERO interest). And the noise. Not only do my dogs not like it, I don't. It took years to get to where my PTSD wasn't triggered by hearing them. And, honestly? I just don't get the attraction.

  6. It's so true that celebrations are so much more over the top. And it also used to be that fireworks were rare and so special -- you got them for New Year, July 4th, maybe sports games or concerts in the park. I can't believe how easy it is to buy your own fireworks now. We used to have neighborhood fireworks displays on our dead end street, but only on the 4th or weekend observation, and it was maybe an hour at most once it got dark and we had people on hose and bucket duty. I know a lot of people with babies and dogs hate the fireworks. I don't mind them for holidays, but don't enjoy when it's all the time (and if I lived in a more populated area it would probably drive me nuts especially if it was all night). And the dangerousness factor! I hear your point about people not having consideration for others, too. It is maddening.