Need ideas for your own exciting fireworks show? This won’t help

image Except for those living in Missouri, where the only fireworks restriction is a requirement that all skyrockets exceeding the length of a standard boat trailer be flagged during transport, most Americans have watched their Independence Day fireworks excitement dwindle from first-strike capability through the 1990s, to today’s wimpy sparklers and fountains with spark-spitting action equal to…


three sparklers tied together?

Americans age 30 and older remember having sparklers so bright they could see them through their eyelids. The bravest kids would spin them like propellers, showering crackling embers everywhere and knowing full well their eyebrows would grow back by September.

The trend in fireworks wimpiness came as the result of restrictions by the National Council on Fireworks Safety in an effort to reduce fireworks-related injuries and deaths throughout the United States. Not counting Missouri, which apparently no one cares about.

Or maybe Missouri chose to ignore the rules altogether.

Hey NCFS! This is what we think of your crackdown on fireworks!   — Love, Missouri
Hey NCFS! Here’s what we think of your crackdown on fireworks!
— Love, Missouri

However, as a service to readers outside Missouri, here’s a list of fireworks you need to either consider purchasing as 1) part of your Independence Day celebration, 2) your personal defense system or 3) the keys to your insanity defense. Ironically, the best Fourth of July fireworks come from China, which means you can still place your order and have it arrive with your take-out order. For some of you, I realize the thought of purchasing fireworks that aren’t Made in America is a little hard to swallow. But in addition to the restrictions that make USA fireworks duds, you have to contend with really poor name choices like this…

The only good thing about this firework is that it keeps the neighbors from coming over. Well, except for that one guy...
The only good thing about this firework is that it keeps the neighbors from coming over. Well, except for that one guy…

Though the following fireworks were made in China, I think you’ll agree they capture the American spirit of adventure, grandeur and firepower that made this country great. Our first example not only manages to offer a combination of blasts, sparks and whistles (sounds representing construction sites throughout our history), the name also reflects the general consensus of most Americans…

...At least until I run out of matches and start using an open flame from my propane tank.
…At least until I run out of matches and start using an open flame from my propane tank.

Love horses? Love Fireworks? Of course you do! They were made for each other! Which is what makes our next item so special. With the “Run for the Roses,” you and your children can experience the majesty of a wild mustang combined with the sulfuric smell of pyrotechnics as, together, you watch in horror as the symbol of the Old West is reduced to a blob of melted plastic…

Even Dan Fogelberg cries when he sees this heartwarming display.
Even Dan Fogelberg cries when he sees this heartwarming display.

How many times have you been sipping a beer on the Fourth of July, watching the neighbor’s three-year-old chase skittering groundflowers, and thought to yourself: “Man, I would love a pair of bongo drums right now!” Let’s face it, bongos are a uniquely American experience for those who remember the 1960s and 70s. Thanks to this next entry, a new generation of intoxicated adults can discover the pageantry of playing bongos while literally getting completely lit…

Honestly, haven't you always thought our National Anthem needs a bongo solo?
Honestly, haven’t you always thought our National Anthem needs a bongo solo?

Think of these next three units as the third movement of your fireworks concerto (or possibly of the day), offering three soloists of Americana…

A White House favorite since the Clinton administration.
A White House favorite since the Clinton administration.
Another Bill Clinton favorite, smuggled in from Vietnam and codenamed “Charlie’s Angels.”
Because our next fight for independence could be against zombies.
Because our next fight for independence could be against zombies.

Every fireworks display needs an exciting climax, and we don’t just mean catching the shrubbery on fire. It’s needs to be a statement that leaves your audience and any nearby code enforcement officers looking like this…

It's like we're God's favorite country!
It’s like we’re God’s favorite country!

That’s when you deliver this one-two punch that spectators will remember long after their hearing damage has become permanent…

Unleashing your final wave of fireworks awesomeness isn't the time to be polite.
Unleashing your final wave of fireworks awesomeness isn’t the time to be polite.

For added effect, allow a momentary lull before launching into this poignant finish…

Because Freedom of Religion is part of the Bill of Rights, and also because there's nothing like the sound of 28 Whistling St. Petes.
Because Freedom of Religion is part of the Bill of Rights, and also because there’s nothing like the sound of 28 Whistling St. Petes going off.

Come Friday, should you find yourself without decent fireworks, you’re welcome to join us for what is sure to be a great show at this spot in Missouri…

I think there's a reason it's called Stump Lake.
I’m pretty sure there’s a reason it’s called “Stump Lake.”

Happy Independence Day!



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause, where this originally posted July 1, 2014.


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

22 thoughts on “Need ideas for your own exciting fireworks show? This won’t help”

  1. There’s a reason I come to Missouri every year for the 4th. To make it even better, we leave the relative safety of the city and drive out to my sister’s country house, out where the only restriction is the supply of lighter fluid. I’m fairly certain 90% of the state can see our show, and the other 10% are in a coma. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a responsible parent and make sure my kids have a large supply of water balloons to put out any errant fires.
    Happy 4th, Ned. May your eyes, ears, and skin grafts heal quickly.

  2. Bwahaha! Awesome post Ned. Love the names of the fireworks. May your celebration be equal parts violent and loving – as the names would suggest. Here’s praying that any wounds heal quickly and cleanly – minimizing scar tissue. Happy Independence Day! (P.S.we here in Canada celebrated Wednesday with an amazing show of military might on parade – both of our tanks were there and our plane did a fly-by. It was enough to simultaneously warm the heart with pride and send a clear message to terrorists that we were a force to be reckoned with. 😀 )

  3. And our government isn’t just meddling with our rights to blow stuff up over our neighbors’ houses, they’re also trying to stop innocent countries like Iran from running advance fireworks development programs!

    1. This is top secret X, but I understand that Iran has tunneled out caves in the mountains and are surreptitiously making fireworks there. We need one of those movie missiles that fly into the entrance of the cave, press the down button on the elevator and then ride the elevator to the assembly area, exit the elevator and proceed to the assembly area, where it then explodes.

  4. I remember blowing up a stump with bottle rockets, and those cherry bombs could be heard across town (and town was about a mile and a half across)
    Just keep in mind that fireworks were invented in China so they have a little more experience…and names don’t always translate well…. 💥

  5. Hi Ned, I’ve been reading your blog for a while but had to comment on this post because you hit the nail on the head (Oh God, I fear I just teed up some kind of weird joke…) I am a self-syndicated military spouse humor/slice of life columnist active in NSNC – wow, that was a mouthful (Oh geeze, there I go again…) – who is worried about being a narcissist. But I think readers don’t mind “I, I, me, me, me” as long as it’s funny, relatable, or worthwhile from a literary standpoint. So keep going on and on about yourself, because your stuff is really good on all counts. Oh, and guess where we are currently stationed … yup, Rhode Island. Biff says “hi.” Thanks for your service, Ned!

    1. Hi Lisa! I’ve read your stuff and it’s really terrific. I’m not sure, but I think we may have corresponded several years ago through the NSNC? (National Society of Newspaper Columnists for those playing at home). I could be wrong. Either way, I appreciate the kind words, especially coming from another self-syndicated columnist from the trenches… who knows BIFF! 😉

      Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to meet up at a NSNC convention sometime.

      1. Definitely… conference is on the West Coast next year – LA! I shared your “Truthfully” piece on the NSNC Facebook group Columnists Clubhouse because fear of “narcissism” was a topic of discussion at our recent conference.

  6. Honest to God.. fireworks seem to bring out the stupid in people! I like to watch them, but I don’t want to be anywhere near them! Take this guy for instance…. Man shoots off firework from top of his head, dies instantly! True story that happened in Maine! OMG! This article appeared in my hometown newspaper this morning. He was only 22 😦
    I hope your tips helped others. ME? I didn’t see this until today, but even I know better than to mix fireworks and liquor! LOL!!
    Hope you had a good 4th. It was my 29th anniversary! 😉

    1. I agree, Courtney. And when I read the article about this guy — though it was sad — I was also a little thankful that kind of stupid was talken out of the gene pool.

      On a happier not, a HUGE congrats on your anniversary! I’m sure the fireworks flew in more ways than one 😉

      1. Well… I can’t disagree with you on that one! Maybe it is better that he isn’t able to procreate more progeny with his stupidity. But he was still so young! 😦
        And yeah… you could say there were fireworks flying under roof also. But not the good kind! I hope I’m not the only person who has a spouse who decides special occasions are the right time to pick a fight! *sigh* The rest of the weekend wasn’t bad though….. :-/

  7. Every year, around the Fourth of July, someone in my middle class neighborhood moves the rock and out scurries a breeding swarm of Redneck and Duh. I call it the White Trash Olympics.

    Previous years’ winners included the drunken couple who sat in folding chairs on their front stoop and yelled angry, slurred instructions to their grade school children who were lighting illegal rockets in the middle of a busy street a few houses away from mine. Or the unknown patriots who managed to acquire full-sized fireworks–but not the launching equipment–and sent hundreds of white hot, sizzling skin grafts from one side of the middle school sports field to another. Or my sloped forehead of a neighbor who, rather than walk his children fifty yards across the street to a community center parking lot, lights his Fourth of July stash twenty feet from my bedroom window. I guess you need to keep the gauze and Neosporin close.

No one is watching, I swear...

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