My July 4th traditions include reading the Declaration of Independence and going to the fireworks show at the local park. Occasionally I’ll go to “the big show” down by the river (which includes a soundtrack on the radio), but most of the time I prefer to walk the few blocks to Powderhorn Park with my little beach chair and sit with all the neighbor families and their kids going “oooo” “ahhh” as the fireworks explode right over our heads. It reminds me of going to Doerhoefer Park in Downers Grove, IL when I was growing up.

Unfortunately, two of my most vivid fireworks memories involved screaming frightened children. One year we went with the neighbors, including two very young girls, maybe 5 or 6 years old?, to the Doerhoefer Park fireworks. This was back in the 70s when they still shot the fireworks right over the crowd. Inevitably there are a few duds in the bunch of fireworks and this time one landed right on our blanket by these two little girls. Very frightening for all! The dud didn’t explode, but I’m not sure if those two girls ever wanted to see fireworks again. (Jenny or Leslie if you see this, let me know if you ever recovered . . . 🙂

Another year I went with a friend and her four children to fireworks in Indiana that were shot off over an old quarry. Unfortunately, it was a very windy night. We all ended up covered in ash. At least one of the children was so frightened by the noise, ash, etc. that he started screaming. Several of us were crying from ash in our eyes. We’re lucky nothing caught on fire and no permanent damage was done. Needless to say, not a very happy Fourth (though my memory is that we had yummy food before heading out to the fireworks).

So, be forewarned–if you invite me to accompany you and your children to any fireworks, it might not be a fun experience.

Nowadays safety seems to be a bigger consideration at the displays. At Powderhorn they shoot off the fireworks from the north shore of the Lake so that the ash, debris, and any duds should fall into the Lake. I always sit along the east side of the lake; most of the explosions end up just overhead in front of me. There was one scary moment last night when one of the fireworks exploded right on the ground, but as far as we could tell, no one was injured. The wind also seemed to blow some of the fireworks back north towards the workers rather than out over the lake, but all-in-all it was a pretty good show. I believe at one time they may have shot the fireworks off from an island in the middle of the Lake (any old-timers out there? leave a comment to let us know), but I suppose that wasn’t very safe for the workers (being trapped on an exploding island if anything went wrong!).

Enjoy the rest of the Holiday Weekend!

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