Thursday, July 5, 2012

Badass crowd-sourced fireworks

I know that this is a totally uncool statement, especially among pet/horse owners, but I love fireworks. I deeply, truly, madly adore fireworks. I put aside all my cynical grownup ways and just stare at the sky going "oooooohhh lookit that blue one." When I was in my 20s, I made a point of catching every fireworks show I possibly could - I remember once, G and I saw fireworks in Heber Springs Arkansas, then drove back to Memphis in time to see the fireworks over the river.

Gradually my hatred for crowds and traffic began to conquer my love of big-city firework displays. I think we skipped them in '09, saw them in '10, skipped them in '11, and were skipping them this year too. Except, as it turns out, I saw plenty of fireworks from my back yard.

So last week, when I went to visit Laura, I drove home up the Pacific Coast Highway. It's possibly the most beautiful road in California: a two-lane highway, twisting along the rocky Pacific coast. The breathtaking scenery is nonstop - and right before you pop back into civilization, you go through the quaint little town of Pacifica. Apparently that's where everybody else in the whole metro area goes to buy fireworks, because one of those construction signs sat right outside of town, flashing NOT WORTH IT | $1000 FINE | ILLEGAL FIREWORKS.

When I saw that, I was like "Holy shit, and I thought the $336 red light cameras in Palo Alto were ridiculous. Screw you, California." And I thought no more of it, until last night.

It's a big-deal thousand-dollar fine that appears to be completely ignored by all 7 million Bay Area residents. Everybody shot off fireworks last night. And I don't mean bottle rockets - I mean I saw, from my backyard, at least 20 homes in my little valley shooting off commercial-grade fireworks. Five of them were really over the top and shot off shells for TWO HOURS. It was totally spectacular.

The cats disliked the whole thing, and I was very careful to keep them inside. Cers hates random booms from idiots setting off M80s in the afternoon, but once it got dark and the actual fireworks started, she settled down and watched them with me. She really was kind of interested in the different noises and the colored lights in the sky. It was pretty cool :)

And because I'm a pretty nerdy nerd, the whole experience made me think of this recent Freakonomics podcast. (If you don't want to listen, you can scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the yellow "audio transcript" button.) Clearly a construction sign warning of the $1000 fine isn't doing much to dissuade people, and I did watch those fireworks go off all night and think "well shit, everybody else is shooting off shells, I could totally get away with it too."

Tomorrow I'm going to do a long ride, our last big one before Gold Country next weekend.


  1. Here in Colorado this summer you can get fined $1000 for smoking a cigarette outside.

    I think you might be drawn and quartered for a sparkler...


  2. I also enjoy fireworks displays, but then I've never had a dog who was afraid of them, and I know a lot of dogs are. What I hate is irresponsible owners who don't check out their dog's reaction to loud noises and then get careless about gates, leashes etc. - The week after Hallowe'en here is a nightmare for those of us who help search for lost dogs.
    And while I like fireworks displays, I really hate the randomly thrown fire crackers that the kids toss around into other people's back yards as they saunter down the street. Not to mention those tossing them in dry grasses or near other flammables.

  3. you simply must experience new years in germany. there is no comparison with what seattle does, and what germany does with fireworks. and since it's legal to drink alcohol in public, everyone has champagne bottles on the streets.

  4. I love fireworks, too, but my critters don't. And I get really ticked off at those who ignore the no fireworks rule near me, cause I live in the brush country (as you saw--lots of poison oak and general scrubby stuff), and it catches fire really easily. Its a little different in the city.

    Have a good ride! Looking forward to riding on the beach with you. And I love that drive up the coast highway to SF, too.

  5. Our horses don't care about fireworks at all, due to spending 5+ years a mile from "boom city" where big boom fireworks are sold on the local tribal reservation. That much exposure = total indifference. Luna was worried though, and spent the evening VERY close to me. Glad it's over, and we can go back to normal life now!

  6. Sounds FRANTASTIC! Something to see! I love them too - at least we don't have fire danger to worry about this year.
    I picked up the mess that someone left at the monument on Thursday - didn't like that!

  7. Best fireworks display hands down is Thunder Over Louisville for the opening weekend of the Derby Festival. Forty five minutes of non-stop fireworks set to music. Amazing!!

    My dogs are Labs - booms mean retrieving something - so they don't care about the fireworks. I made the time to shoot firearms around the horses so they don't much care either. Funny thing though. They don't mind the big caliber stuff but .22s make them spook in place!!

  8. I love fireworks too! took my dogs to the show. One ignored the whole show and napped and the other would snap at the sky every time when went off like he was trying to catch it. he LOVED it.

  9. I bet some of the houses with huge displays got a permit to show, usually you can do that in areas with no fireworks laws.


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