I admit it. I love fireworks. I love to hear the oohs and aahs of a crowd as they sit on their blankets and lawn chairs looking skyward at things that go flash and boom on a warm summer 4th of July evening.
My enthusiasm for fireworks goes back to the time my parents first took me to a Independence Day celebration in Buffalo, New York. It became a regular summertime ritual and only fueled my desire to experience them firsthand. That came one summer in the mid 60s when a grammar school buddy managed to get his hands on some (now illegal) cherry bombs and M-80s. A bunch of us went through the neighborhood with this arsenal. stopping briefly to light them and drop them into sewers and down the exhaust pipes of Johnny-on-the-Spots. We’d then run like hell to witness (from a safe distance) a blinding flash, a thunderous bang and an enormous plume of smoke. We fortunately never got caught and managed to make it home with our digits still intact.
I've never forgotten the danger, thrill and the rush of that night to this day.
To pay tribute that night, I began to document impromptu fireworks celebrations in my neighborhood around Independence Day over the years. This was later expanded to include fireworks stores in eleven states east of the Mississippi, especially those temporary tents and stands that suddenly sprout up out of nowhere during the selling season before the 4th of July and show up in the parking lots of shopping malls, at gas stations or fields that, weeks before, were empty.
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