July 5, 2012 by Cynthia
Our family did the usual 4th of July BBQ, then settled in to watch the neighborhood explode. Vancouver takes the whole rockets’ red glare thing very, very seriously and at times the fireworks displays provide as much light as the afternoon sun.
My beloved Portland restricts home fireworks displays to the non-airborne (it’s apparently illegal to shoot off anything that travels more than a foot vertically or six feet horizontally).
But Vancouver, the city just across the state line, takes a different approach: As long as the firework doesn’t actually produce a mushroom cloud, enjoy.
It makes for some interesting celebrations, and up in the higher elevations along the river the differences become very, very obvious: Portland is literally the dark side. Well, mostly dark; a couple hundred celebrants usually stock up on fireworks in Vancouver and cross the border to put on some nice, if illegal, shows.
Meanwhile in Vancouver, standing on my parents’ front porch I took in seven different, ‘way up in the air displays, indistinguishable from the official ones, all of ‘em within a 1-block radius. It was kinda like a war movie, except that nobody was bleeding.
Toby, Mom’s dog (AKA “Your little brother”) has a fireworks phobia and hides behind the masterbath toilet at the first burp of a firecracker. He also refuses to go outside whenever the neighbors are blasting away (a whole WEEK). It becomes a bit of a sanitation nightmare, so Mom’s not too crazy about fireworks, either.
“I wonder when one of those things is going to set the house on fire,” she fretted last night, and just as I started to scoff, the neighbor’s rocket launcher misfired and sent one across the front lawn, into the bushes. Ooops–we spent the next fifteen minutes combing the shrubbery for firestarters, found nothing and went back to watching.
Ferd-the-rental-car (standing in for Cherrybaby until she’s back to normal) was covered with ash and grit from the blasts, looking a bit like I’d parked him in a very dirty fireplace. I got inside, carefully negotiated my way past all nine fireworks stations to get out of their subdivision, and decided to count the how many displays I could find between M&D’s house and mine.
In the first mile, I counted 26. By the time I got to the Washington-Oregon border I’d seen 57. It slowed down after that, and stubbornly stuck at 76 until I was nearly home. Given that it’s the 4th of July and all (1776, remember?) I thought that entirely appropriate. About a mile from the house, though–boom, boom, boom–came displays 77 through 82.
Drat. And I came home to find the entire neighborhood sitting in my driveway, watching the last burst of what had probably been a great show. #83.
Even if you don’t count that big ol’ thundermoon competing for every last viewer’s attention, it was a pretty spectacular 4th.
Hope you had a happy 4th, too.
P.S. If you want to see a REALLY big fireworks show, check out the one in San Diego this year; apparently a technical glitch set off all the fireworks for an entire show at once. Would have loved to have been there, albeit with earplugs.