06 July 2009

Fireworks Etiquette

Scores of people lined the riverbank as several different fireworks shows lit up the cloudy night sky, reflecting a distorted but beautiful light show in the river below. Bright, colorful bursts of sparks and fire arrived noiselessly until two seconds later when the sound finally caught up with the light that had already disappeared from view. Cheap snappers and sparklers popped and sizzled all around us, filling the pauses with peripheral sight and sound while the sky prepared for another rocket to pierce its blackness. One could be mesmerized in the awe of these moments.

That is could be mesmerized, if it weren't for several factors making the experience at times uncomfortable and generally annoying.
  • Huddled in a tight circle in the prime fireworks viewing spot, a group of about seventy teen girls (and I may be exaggerating: they could've been preteen) loudly, incessantly, and somehow simultaneously held conversations with themselves, punctuated by laughter that made even the exploding projectiles of fire form a finger and pair of lips to shush the girls, which made them laugh scornfully and even more loudly. Though their merriment may have held true with the spirit of the Independence Day festivities, I'm sure they were less concerned with patriotism and enjoying the fireworks than they were with, say, the Jonas Brothers or making fun of their parents.
  • Small groups of people on either side of my wife and me kept inching closer and closer to us, not unlike those rusty, spike-laden walls that creep insistently and horrifyingly inward toward the hero of an action/adventure movie. Except, in our case, we were less likely to procure tetanus or unwillingly obtain body piercings and more likely to get lung cancer because...
  • ...everyone in this area smokes! When I say "everyone," I do not actually mean to imply that absolutely everyone here smokes. I do mean to imply that the proportion of smokers to nonsmokers in any given outdoor event is about 25:1. The parents, their adult children, and some of their underage children huffed and puffed to their (and our) alveoli's discontent, being ever so careful to make sure they either stood upwind of us or turned their faces toward us when they exhaled.
  • The fireworks themselves were impressively unimpressive. At a rate of about one firework every 30 seconds, the audience's very short attention spans caused them to wander off mentally and physically. (In particular were some people (possibly inebriated) getting a little too close to the dropoff point of the riverbank.) Whoever directed the fireworks did not use a lot of creativity, unfortunately. Some of the 'works themselves were beautiful and appropriately loud, but there was no theme. By the time the finale came (which I think was more about getting out of the park before the rains came than actually completing the show), my wife and I were walking back home.

Thus ends my curmudgeonly report on the fireworks.

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