The Fourth of July means much more than fireworks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

It was another typical summer night in south Alabama. Locusts buzzed beneath the thick evening air and a full moon dripped through the leaves of the trees above my home.

The Fourth of July was less than a week away and I could not wait to bask in the splendor of Roman candles, firecrackers and other assorted bright and noisy inventions.

All the fireworks stands had opened their doors to hungry eyes and hands more than a month ago, but I had been strong until now.

The distant pops and fizzles of fireworks only made may hunger grow stronger. I wanted to see the fiery streak of a bottle rocket as it journey to its destination among the evening stars. I wanted to see the sizzling colors of a Roman candle and smell the sharp scent of black powder in the air.

The time had come. I heard the sharp whistle of a bottle rocket down the street from my grandmother's home and my heart began to pound.

"Let's go get some fireworks," I exclaimed.

"If you get some now, then what will you do when the Fourth of July comes?" my father asked.

"I'll shoot some more fireworks," I said with a bright smile upon my face.

I could never spend too much time lighting bottle rockets in the dark of night. Sparklers never really did much to excite me. I needed the loud launches and bright explosions in the sky.

I felt my eyes grow

wider as we pulled into the parking area at the fireworks stand. The small trailer could barely hold the continuous crowd of kids and adults combing through the endless supply of black powder prizes.

I hopped from the car seat and slowly made my way up the steps into the fireworks sanctuary. The smell of plastic wrap, lighter sticks and matches filled the air of the cramped trailer. I patiently made my way through the aisle, resisting the urge to grab one of everything in sight.

"Pick a few things for now and we can come back later to buy the big stuff," my father said with a smile.

I shook my head to acknowledge that I had heard him, but my eyes were fixated on something extraordinary.

Before me stood a massive display of patriotism, freedom and brute power. The enormous package of color, noise and light. My father saw me gazing at the high-priced package and quickly confirmed my suspicions.

"We can't get that tonight son. Pick up a couple packs of bottle rockets and some sparklers," he said.

I could deal with that for now. After all, the Fourth of July was still five days away. I had plenty of time to save my money.

The Fourth of July is an excellent time to bring your family a little closer together and celebrate the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Don't miss the chance to create memories that will last a lifetime this Fourth of July.

If money and time are tight, then their are plenty of other options available for the Fourth of July. The City of Andalusia will hold their annual fireworks display on Thursday, July 4. Gates will open at 5 p.m. and the show will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Please remember to practice proper safety when dealing with fireworks this Fourth of July. Certain precautions can mean the difference

between a night to remember and a night you would like to forget.

A list of safety guidelines to follow are available at all fireworks stands. Just ask the vendor for a copy of proper precautions.

Jeremy Henderson is an intern and columnist for The Star-News. He can be reached at