It says so in the national anthem: rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. No wonder we like a good fireworks celebration on the Fourth of July. The United States came in with a bang, after all.
But, I don’t know. Like many of those fortunate enough to be working during the pandemic, I’ve been working from home, sitting in my little office, typing away. Every once in a while, during the past few weeks, and more often than I’d care to count, I’ll be jolted by the sound of something exploding outside my window, often followed by the sound of many other things exploding. Sometimes you think it might be a thunderstorm, but most times you don’t. A look out the window and there’s the red glare, things bursting in air — but I can’t say I’m feeling patriotic about it.
What I do get is annoyed, and from what I gather I am far from alone.
Who knows why, but from Connecticut to California, as a recent story put it, people have been setting off fireworks, way before the July 4 date, which we typically reserve for celebrating the onset of the nation with jolts of fireworks.
How come? Could it be because we are cooped up? (possibly). Could it be that we’re overcome by a surge of patriotic fervor? (it would be nice to think so, but ...). Maybe we just like blowing things up.
The pandemic has left pyrotechnic celebrations of America’s birth to the amateurs — and many are finding reason to complain. A recent story put the daily count at 200 for complaints about fireworks in Hartford. In Meriden the other day, police uncovered about $5,000 worth of fireworks in a garage behind a Bunker Avenue residence. They were were stocked underneath the rafters and stacked on garage shelves. Police said there had been many complaints coming from the area.
Connecticut is pretty strict when it comes to fireworks — as in, they are not allowed. An exception is made for fountains and sparklers, but they’re not considered fireworks so … fireworks are not allowed.
Efforts to crack down on illegal fireworks are taking place at the same time towns and cities are backing off their own Independence Day fireworks displays. It’s another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. You can easily lose track of all those opting out, so it might be best to assume everyone is, including Meriden, Cheshire, Wallingford … Lake Compounce in Bristol, Middletown …
Nobody’s happy about it. Fireworks are fun, and for as long as I’ve been around they’ve been, along with cookouts, what makes July 4 such a festive occasion. (Once, when I was in school in London, where you won’t be surprised to learn they don’t consider Independence Day worth celebrating, students leaned out the windows and waved flags — that was fun, too. It felt, appropriately, recalcitrant).
In a recent story about towns canceling fireworks celebrations there was some speculation about the upswing in the illegal use.
“I’m not sure the reason why. Maybe it’s because people are home,” offered Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati. “But I do know I have been receiving more complaints for illegal fireworks than I have in years past.”
Wallingford has been fielding complaints just about every night, said police Lt. Cheryl Bradley.
While setting off fireworks might be fun for the person setting them off, there’s reasonable doubt others will be amused. The effort lacks the camaraderie, you could say, of the municipal celebrations. It can frighten children and upset older folks, and unsettle animals who already have enough troubles when it comes to getting along with humans.
“For now, we’re worried about keeping ourselves safe, our kids safe and that means not going out and buying our own illegal fireworks just so we can have a few minutes of joy,” said Bradley. A good way of putting it.
Add fireworks to the list of things best left to the virtual world for the time being. As for the Fourth? You can still celebrate. Just wear a mask.
Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.