It is Saturday the 3rd of July*, which in Utah can only mean one thing… fireworks! Yes in the state of Utah any holiday that falls on a Sunday, save Christmas, is celebrated by the state on the Saturday before. It’s kind of a catch twenty-two though. (I would have included Easter in that, but Easter is a Sunday holiday so it’s not like it’s going to get celebrated in a different day for some reason.)
At one end of the spectrum it’s the power of the people controlling and choosing when to celebrate… at least it would be if there was a vote. I know it’s what the majority would vote for, which might be the rational for there not being a vote. At least I really don’t remember a vote, and democracy though assumption is not a government that I’m terribly supportive of. Hence part two of the equation, the perpetual and relentless lack of the concept, separation of church and state. I’m not saying that it’s like Vatican city… ok so maybe I’m saying it’s a little like that. There is a very strong church based control of the laws that get passed in this state.
It is getting better though, we even get the occasional alternate lifestyle supporter, and once we even had an a politician in office in Salt Lake City itself who was openly active in that alternative lifestyle. You’d never see it happen in the rural towns, still Utah is not a completely dark age state. Oddly though, the liquor stores are all run by the state. So all of these hard core religious politicians want to make sure they have control of the alcohol in this state, even though they are against the consumption of alcohol. I have heard, which may or may not be true, that it is the taxes on alcohol that helps pay for the schools, which to me means that if you want smarter children in the state if Utah, you really need to drink more. In fact I think for the rest of the wine parties we have each month I am going to start them off with a toast to the education of Utah’s children. It will be in good spirits and everyone will be drinking with intent and purpose.
I don’t believe there are any dry counties in Utah, so I don’t feel we are quite that archaic. I guess when it comes to Utah all I can do is quote the immortal words of one Bob Wiley from ‘What about Bob?’ fame and say, “Baby steps…” We’ll get there eventually, maybe not in my lifetime, but eventually. Until then I’ll keep celebrating Independence Day on the 3rd instead of the 4th during those years that the 4th falls on a Sunday. Likewise, I’ll continuing ignoring all state hosted New Years Eve celebrations that take place on the 30th of January instead of the 31st because the 31st falls on a Sunday… because that is just plain stupid and in my book utter sacrilege.
One of the things I learned today while out and about, going to a late movie during the same time that the official city run firework shows are going off is the perfect time to catch a movie. You can arrive five minutes after the movie has started and still get your choice of almost any seat in the house. We even caught a few colorful fireballs filling the evening sky on the drive home as well. It was like our own little double feature.
One thing about July in Utah is it is unofficially the official firework month. They legalize fireworks for the month of July for two different patriotic celebrations. The first is the 4th, which is the birthday party for the US. The second is the 24th, which is the day Utah officially become a state, hence the birthday of Utah. On both days there are firework celebrations and the state feels compelled to let the people of Utah light off fireworks during these three weeks without any legal repercussion… as long as you don’t set anything or anyone on fire that is. Granted these are only the state sanctioned and legal fireworks that are allowed, which are sold at the various firework booths that start popping up in grocery story parking lots throughout the month of July. For the more adventurous folks, they will drive about an hour out of their way to cross the state border over in to Wyoming were they can purchase illegal fireworks and bring them home… and quite probably
I have mixed feelings about fireworks, mainly because it’s a very literal variation of the old adage “burning your money”, which I’d like to think I’m against. Lighting off fireworks is more like lighting a hundred dollar bill on fire and watching it burn over an hour long interval, but this really only happens once or twice a year. Still, fireworks seem like a bad investment that I’m just not that interested in making.
Besides, I know that a portion of my state taxes are always going to help fund the state hosted firework shows each year, which does make me a little grumpy if I stop to think about it. Let say that the average firework show costs a hundred-thousand dollars (which is a made-up figure that I have no way of knowing is even remotely accurate). Ironically enough, well, hypocritically enough anyway, I always find it comical that it is illegal for any civilian to own or shoot off any illegal fireworks, which are the big ones that shoot into the air and make big colorful explosions in the sky. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable for the city council to bring in and light off thousands of these illegal fireworks each year. I guess that’s politics for you. The main thing I get grumbley about is that we could use that money to help people in the state that are living below the poverty line, that are homeless and hungry. Instead, we light all that money on fire so people can “Ooooh” and “Ahhhh” for about an hour.
Still, the little person inside me still remembers all of the fun I had based on bad decisions in the name of a good time. Things like holding firecrackers with my hands and throwing them into the air before the fuse ran out and they would explode. My favorite was the Roman candle wars we would have. Roman candles were twelve to fourteen inch long fireworks, about a half inch in diameter. One end had a stake that you would stick into the ground and then you’d light the fuse at the other end and ten to twelve little fireballs would shoot out of the end, burning a different color. They didn’t last that long and would burn out before it hit the ground, still you got ten of those in a row. My brothers and I would actually hold those things in our hands and then run around the back yard trying to hit each other with these baby fireballs. My dad just laughed at us and stayed close to the hose.
There is something hypnotic and inspiring about fireworks. I see it in the eyes of my niece and nephew when they watch them go off and fill the night’s sky with fiery colors. It’s kind of like watching them dream while they are awake. And there is my firework conundrum… inspiring and invoking imagination in the youth, and a huge waste of funds that could help those in need. Hopefully someday the state will find a happy medium. Until then I’ll try to keep this conundrum to myself and try to spend time with the niece and nephew when the fireworks go off and continue to donate to the food bank when I can. I guess that’s my happy medium for the time being. I hope everyone enjoyed, their 4th festivities, even if they happened to happen on the 3rd.
What are your thoughts on firework shows?
Google Images, key words: Utah fireworks, what about Bob, firework tent, watching fireworks, kids watching fireworks.
*I realize that I officially posted this on the 4th, but it was written on the 3rd. Sometimes things take a bit longer to post than I initially expected. Personally I blame hay fever and allergies, but the allergy medicine did play its role as well.