The Kansas phenomenon of personal pyromania still awes me, even on my fourth Independence Day celebrations here. I will admit that our first Kansas July found us completely disbelieving the signage at the fireworks CIRCUS TENTS (because back home in Texas, you have stands. Fireworks STANDS. Little shacks that sell what you otherwise have to go to the outlet factory warehouse to purchase). These signs reminded buyers that fireworks could only be bought and set off in the city limits. Yes, that word is IN. My husband and I actually sought out the city and state code online because this was so incomprehensible to us. Surely, there was a misprint? but no.
Everywhere else we’ve ever lived, cities ban you. If they could pat you down for artillery at the city limits, they would. Urban dwellers elsewhere have a healthy respect for the fire-starting properties of fireworks. My husband, the son of a volunteer county fireman, mostly has July memories of emergency calls to put out grassfires, lake drownings, and fireworks-induced bodily injuries. Most of our personal fireworks have been of small to moderate firepower, usually at a lake or over rocky escarpments. So now, picture our culture shock as we view the Kansas way:
First, the source:
These tents come in size medium, large and Barnum & Bailey circus. Too crowded at the first one? Move up the street a half-mile and try the next. No luck? St. Mary’s summer fundraiser is across the street another half mile. And so it goes, at least every half mile along major roads.
Second, the proximity:
we live in a very suburban, cul-de-sac kind of neighborhood. Request a city barricade and you can fence off your whole street for your own personal ground zero. The center of our cul-de-sac becomes a show staging area for the circle’s half a dozen homes. Need I mention the importance of making sure your car is garaged during this week, rather than left curbside? Yes, I have seen Roman candles sparking their lovely colors across a street and right under a neighbor’s car.
Third, the Chill Factor:
no one thinks anything of letting kids (under the close supervision of well-lit adults) set off some serious artillery. Everyone is very laid back about the explosions and sparks, and the close proximity of VERY BIG fireworks right above your roof. ‘sall coool.
Fourth, the firepower:
we see not only fountains and hear the Black Cats, but we see crysanthemums and palms and other giant glittery overhead oohs and aaahs. And I mean right. over. head. Set off right in one’s own street. This year they just yesterday afternoon banned the fire lanterns, due to extremely dry conditions, but we still watched a literally-fire-powered paper-shaded cylinder float way up into the air above the neighborhood. Which begs a look at Kansas weather in general, which was unusually still yesterday, but is often very, VERY windy. This is little discouragement here, however, as folks are used to the gustiness. If you waited for still days, nothin’ would get done ’round here. My pastor calls his small town “Little Baghad” during this week, and looks forward to adding to the haze of artillery smoke (and I can’t deny we contribute, either!).
So what are July 4 celebrations like in your area?