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I Hate Fireworks
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I Hate Fireworks

June 30th, 2010 by Kyra Deblaker-Gebhard · 44 Comments · Capitol Hill

Originally uploaded to flickr by FredoAlvarez

I hate fireworks.

I know, I know… I’m a terrible American. I don’t like ice cream, Rice Crispy treats or s’mores either. Get over it.

As a child, the loud “bang, zoom” of a firework exploding terrified me. Even ear plugs couldn’t make me a willing participant in my hometown’s yearly Independence Day festivities.

As a teenager, I took to heart the horror stories my father, the town fire chief, told us kids. Most stories ended with someone starting a brush fire or losing a limb, yet my dad couldn’t understand why I didn’t warm up to professional fireworks displays.

When I moved to Capitol Hill, I was introduced to a whole new fear: fireworks in a crowded city setting.

My first July 4th on the Hill scared the sh*t out of me. Imagine naïve me, sitting in the basement with my husband thinking that the noise we heard was from the festivities on the National Mall. When we walk outside to see if we can get a glimpse of the Capitol dome we are immediately overcome by the smoke from the fireworks display going off on our street, next to cars with tanks filled with gasoline.

I called the police, and would keep calling for the next few hours. That night, and on subsequent holidays, I learned the nothing could or would stop the displays, not even the police cruisers that drove down the smoke-filled street.

Before you tell me to move to Canada, hear me out. We all complain or call the police when we see something illegal happening in our neighborhood—the guy breaking into a neighbor’s shed, the driver completely disregarding the stop sign, the bike riding on the sidewalk in the Central Business District—but when it comes to fireworks, a majority of us look the other way, or at least to the sky to enjoy the show.

With the exception of a few explosives, most of the DIY displays on the Hill are illegal, yet you sit out front and watch in delight or stop by the many stands that pop up around the city selling fireworks. Why is that? Don’t you know that you could lose a limb!?

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  • Colin

    I realize I sound like a grumpy old man, but I’m with you! For me, the worst are the firecrackers, which provide no pleasing visual display. Instead they just make the neighborhood sound like a war zone. Add on top of that the fact that children scream after setting them off, and I spend most of June flinching and wondering if someone just lost a hand, or worse, got shot.

  • hillrez

    So you’re a crazy person with an irrational phobia.
    Don’t tell us about it – get some therapy and get over it.

  • Jon

    I have to say I agree for the most part with Kyra. I like admiring from a distance, not having explosives whiz past my head. I can deal with sparklers and roman candles, but the other stuff seems pretty dangerous to set off so close to people, cars, pets, and the wooden porches and decks that populate a lot of the Hill.

  • Aaron

    Grinch! I love fireworks and grew up setting off bags and bags of fireworks in my neighborhood with friends. Though I don’t really buy fireworks anymore at my old age, I get a huge kick out of the annual pyro-fest on the Hill. And relax, most of what people are lighting off in our parks and neighborhood couldn’t really cause much harm, and certainly couldn’t penetrate a car’s gas tank.

  • Kyra

    @ hillrez: Irrational phobia? Maybe. Crazy? Sure! Call me crazy for caring about the safety of others.

    If you’d like to chip in for the cost of therapy, feel free. I’ll chip in for your prosthetic limb.

  • Melissa B.

    I’m more concerned with your dislike of ice cream, rice krispie treats and s’mores. ;-)

    That being said, to each his (or her) own, folks! Geesh. Her disliking fireworks won’t ruin your enjoyment of the day. The holiday isn’t about fireworks anyway, it’s about our independence and how we’re all free to form our own opinions.

    Happy 4th Kyra, however you decide to spend it.

  • Tory Patrick

    Well said, Melissa B.!

    “The holiday isn’t about fireworks anyway, it’s about our independence.”

    (Kyra, you don’t like Rice Krispie treats OR s’mores?! What about a s’more made out of Rice Krispie treats?! That will blow your mind!)

  • Kyra

    Honestly, I don’t like marshmallows. I like Rice Krispies with milk and I like chocolate and graham crackers, but add the marshmallows and I’m gone.

    Maybe I should blame my parents when I start my therapy. :)

  • Jon

    Did your parents blow up marshmallows when you were a child?

  • Marybindc

    What Aaron said. Yes, fireworks accidents happen, though more likely burns than loss of limb. Car accidents happen and metro accidents happen and walking accidents happen. Your terror is your own, and should not affect anyone else.

  • sebastian

    I’m with Kyra. She’s the sane one in this matter.

  • 10th St

    I don’t hate fireworks, I hate people who dangerously shoot illegal fireworks near my house, near my car, late at night, and the entire week surrounding Independence Day, no matter the hour or how many sleeping babies there might be just next door.

  • Melissa B.

    My husband doesn’t like marshmallows, either. :)

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    As I’ve previously stated, the 4th is my favorite holiday (after my birthday and tied with Easter). I LOVE fireworks and I like the display at Lincoln Park. I do not however like children setting off fireworks all over the neighborhood.

    My dad was a cop, so like Kyra, I’ve heard my share of horror stories, and that’s stuck with me. But, it hasn’t tempered my love for colorful explosives.

  • Kim

    I love looking at sanctioned, legal fireworks displays put on by professionals. I, too, hate the fireworks random people feel the need to set off.

  • Kim

    And, while I love smores, I can’t stand Rice Krispie treats or plain marshmallows. Yuck.

    I don’t know why I like smores, but I do.

  • Kyra

    @ Jon-I’m pretty sure they didn’t blow up marshmallows, however my dad did let me watch Poltergeist when I was 5. I’ve been afraid of clowns ever since.

    I’m starting to think that the list of things I am afraid of is rather long.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    I’m not afraid of much, Kyra, but the things I am afraid of are ridiculous. The one that makes most people laugh is my fear of butterflies and moths. I loathe all winged creatures that fly. (Penguins are cool.) Butterflies and moths are extra awful b/c of the disgusting texture of their nasty wings. Plus, they used to be vile little caterpillars (which I’m not afraid of, but don’t like.)

  • http://www.dclikealocal.com Tim Krepp

    You know what else is dangerous and illegal?

    Rebelling against the British.

  • http://n/a Harper

    OK, I didn’t tell you to move to Canada before you made your case.

    Now, I’m telling you to move to Canada.

  • http://www.dclikealocal.com Tim Krepp

    Harper, that’s just mean. She shouldn’t have to renounce her citizenship over such a trivial issue, un-American as her viewpoint is.

    However, I hear lovely things about the Canadian Maritimes this time of year. Perhaps you could let us know what it’s like on the Fourth, Kyra?

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    Kyra wouldn’t even be safe in Canada since they do the fireworks thing on July 3 for Canada Day. The fireworks over Parliament Hill in Ottawa are spectacular.

  • Rake

    I don’t hate fireworks, but I do hate inane posts filled with MOTH-y complaints and drivel.

  • Kyra

    Hey Rake–

    I didn’t make this once about kids or pets or even my kid. So watch your MoTH labels. If your smart enough to read my posts or my bio, you know I have a kid, but you don’t know if my kid likes fireworks!? Hell, I don’t even know if she likes fireworks. She doesn’t mind them going off before, during or after a game at Nat’s Park–she has been to plenty games for me to say that–but she has never been on the Hill for a July 4th DIY celebration.

    I don’t like fireworks because I think they are dengerous. They can hurt people and homes of all ages. Attack me if you feel so inclined, but DON’T imply this is a MoTH rant.

    See, I didn’t even imply you were a breeder-hater. That’s how you write a comment.

  • JMB

    You’re totally right for complaining, but the bottom line is that neighborhood fireworks are a fine tradition which adds character to an otherwise fairly celebration-less culture. We don’t have carnival in this country (talk about fireworks and danger in Italy, Brazil, Caribbean, etc.) we don’t run with the bulls, or fill the streets with smashed fruit, or have large drunken outdoor bashes which last for days like most of the older cultures in the world. All we have is the 4th. Fireworks, and the light, noise and smell they produce, is a huge part of it.

    Most people find the impromptu and illegal fireworks on the hill one of the most charming small town things about the 4th. It’s a community led celebration, and unfortunately our fears and obsession with safety in these modern times will eventually shut it down. There was a time when people were ashamed of being fearful, in our era fear is apparently something to wear on your sleeve.

    You know a lot of wonderful things are very dangerous, the risk of you getting burned or loosing a house to fireworks is almost nil. Much less than the risk of us getting hit by a car while we cross the street, or drive. We are all going to die or get injured by a 1,000 other things- not fireworks.

    Having lived on the hill most of my life, I recommend enjoying the beauty of people celebrating something, getting used to the noise (it’s just one very short night), think of independence from whatever you like, and keep a fire extinguisher handy.

  • http://madamemeow.com Maria Carey

    Honestly though, a little blowing-stuff-up is fun. I don’t exactly love the smoke, but the explosions don’t bother me at all. I think growing up in a city where car bombs exploded on a regular basis might have something to do with it.

    Incidentally, I do have a relative who is missing thumb, forefinger and middle finger for messing around with fireworks when he was a kid. He was a walking cautionary tale.

  • Geoff

    The only problem I have with the ‘neighborhood’ fireworks is that most of the people using my neighborhood to set off their stuff is that they don’t live here. Most come in from PG county, set off their fireworks and then leave the mess and go home. Just like the van loads of kids with MD tags that invade on Halloween, they must not have much going on out there. Or the police are really serious about illegal fireworks, unlike the cops here.
    One thing I didn’t see in the comments is the affect on our pets. Last year when I was walking my dog (who is non-plussed by the noise) I saw a small black dog, terrified by the noise, running full tilt up 13th Street towards Independence Ave.
    Unfortunately he couldn’t be stopped, but I was really afraid he’s get hit by a car.

    I have no problem with the legal fireworks that the kids enjoy. But I would like it all to only last one evening, not for the week prior and the week after the 4th.

  • FireworksHater

    Here I am on the 4th @ 10:00 at night in my dining room windows closed and yes EAR PLUGS IN!!! Yes, I said ear plugs inside my home as the annual display of hell on my ears is just outside. My husband and 3 children are braving the storm of terror while I am home alone. Do you think I want to be here? Well, I don’t! I love the visual but am terrified of the sounds.

  • RocketGuy

    @everyone villifying Kyra for her opinion:

    The freedom we celebrate on this day includes hers to be free from people imposing their personal likes upon her. There are myriad reasons to abstain from setting off fireworks within a city setting, foremost of which is the simple fact that they are ILLEGAL! However, if being obedient to the law doesn’t sway you, consider the young mother next door who just got her infant to sleep and is trying to enjoy the first rspite of a harrowing day, or the soon-to-be widow three doors down who sits by her dying husband’s bedside with in-home hospice standing by…

    For those of you who love fireworks, there are plenty of legal municipal displays at which you can satisfy your desire for pyrotechnics…but for those of us who do not, there are no public displays of silence…

  • foreignchick

    I have lived in the US for 22 years and dread the 4th every year not because of the official fireworks displays but the neighborhood random rockets that frighten the heck out of my dogs and cause me sleepless nights . I have always hated sudden loud noises. Sadly no police officer will take you seriously during these times. I thought this country was about equal rights for everyone. I wish municipalities would absolutely forbid the sale and use of private fireworks set of by mostly inebriated party goers in the neighborhood. I worry about my car and hate to clean up duds from my yard the next days. I also do not like most American foods which makes me a total freak here in the South.

  • ihatetrash

    I hate neighborhood fireworks displays!!!!!

    All the trash and irresponsible behavior is ridiculous. Are these the same people who smoke and throw their butts on the ground too!!!! trash everywhere is not American!!!

  • ObeytheLaw

    I do not oppose municipal displays of fireworks. Those are schduled at a certain time and one can anticipate them. But when individuals set off fireworks in violation of the law, I oppose it. The fireworks being set off in my community just keep getting more and more powerful every year. It is not now just simply bottle rockets or firecrakers, but loud booms that can be heard more than a mile away. This really has nothing to do with patriotism. Patriotic people obey the law and respect their neighbors.

    Do you want to know the real reason why governments do nothing to bring a stop to all this madness? When something does not make sense, always follow the money trail. The pyrotechnics industry has lobbyists in state capitals around this nation. They give money to politicians who then do their will.

  • RB

    On the night of July 3rd, a group of drunken 20 somethings decided to set off firecrackers in front of my house at 4:00 am. On the night of the 4th, a different group of hooligans decided to detonate bombs so powerful that they triggered car alarms. They went all over the neighborhood cursing loudly and detonating one bomb after the other. Neither group lives here and they weren’t celebrating anything other than their lack of respect for anyone else.

  • Jon

    I thought it was amusing last night around 10:30 when a police helicopter circled overhead with its search light on. All the fireworks in the hood ceased. As soon as the helicopter flew away, they all started up again.

    Growing up in my neighborhood in NY, July 4th looked like a warzone. And neither NY or DC holds a candle to Paris on Bastille Day.

    I’ll admire from a distance and keep your explosive devises away from my house and cars, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    I spent this weekend in Petworth, as I’ve done from time to time in years past. My friends live right on Sherman Circle, where the (yes, illegal) display rivaled that of many small towns and went on until close to midnight. It’s quite a bit more extravagant than the Lincoln Park pyrotechnics (which is saying something!) but like Lincoln Park, it feels like the whole neighborhood is there, enjoying each other’s company and generally having a great time. I was also impressed this morning to find neat piles of trash ready to be picked up, rather than strewn throughout the park at Sherman Circle and/or on the streets.

    I get that some people – and their kids and dogs – might be disturbed by it (of course, my friends’ 14 month old slept soundly through the whole thing and our dogs were indifferent) but it’s a fun community event and the occurrence of actual injury to humans, pets, cars, homes etc is extremely rare. Fireworks on the Mall are great, but there’s nothing neighborly about jockeying for position with a few hundred thousand other folks – especially now that the atmosphere has changed so radically (for the worse, in my opinion) from the days when people brought couches and kegs and spent a day of it, picnicking, partying and generally having fun.

  • Jon

    Seriously Nichole….stop peddling Petworth. Their fireworks are better, and now their trash is better.

  • http://Www.Twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole

    And they have a kickass spray park! (which I’ll be writing about soon and wondering why we don’t have one on the Hill!)

  • Niamh

    I hate fireworks. I used to like them but now every Halloween nd for weeks afterwards other kids in my neighbourhood and school set them off randomely.

    Last year they threw one in to my front garden and now my little brother is afraid to go outside by himself and whenever he hears a firework he freaks out and hides. When i hear a firework I get reslly scared and a chill runs through my body :(.

    When I was down town at my local youth centre boys started firing fireworks at me and my friends. One just missed me because I ducked behind a wall! It was terrifying and do you know what really annoyed me the boys just stood their laughing! My friends and I were scared and they LAUGHED! I haven’t gone back down now in fear that it will happen again!

    There are a few young children in my neighbourhood. Some are terrified(like my little brother) nd others actually want some fireworks so that they can fire them around the place too!

  • Maya McLaughlin

    I have been afraid of Fire works since as long as i can remember. I m not afraid of getting hurt or anthing its the NOISE! I dont know why but i hate it. Fourth of July is my most hated day in my life. And im 14 now so imagine not hanging out with friends at bbq’s and partys but sitting in your room taking night quil so you can sleep through the whole thing. Its horrible. i wish i was normal and could take the noise. i dont even like the sound of balloons popping. Is there something wrong with me?!

  • Anonymous

    After a certain period of time I find fireworks redundant and annoying. It’s all just *BOOM*CRACK*BOOM*BOOM*WIIZZZZ*CRACK* with neon colors that hurt my eyes after too many views. I also don’t really enjoy the flavor chocolate, I find baseball extremely boring and uninspiring despite it being the country’s pastime, and I could care less for the beverage that is coffee.

  • goldenrushapple

    After a certain period of time I find fireworks redundant and annoying. It’s all just *BOOM*CRACK*BOOM*BOOM*WIIZZZZ*CRACK* with neon colors that hurt my eyes after too many views. I also don’t really enjoy the flavor chocolate, I find baseball extremely boring and uninspiring despite it being the country’s pastime, and I could care less for the beverage that is coffee.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WEK7HXPB5CWEETCJ3VXAZNIAJM kristi

    Think of the poor animals. Fireworks disgust me. People starving in this world while money is being waisted and blown up in the sky.

    WHAT A DISGRACE

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Mankey/100000614501849 Chris Mankey

    Actually, jackass, I don’t like bombs going off a 2 am when I have to go to work 9 . Screw you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Mankey/100000614501849 Chris Mankey

    Actually, jackass, I don’t like bombs going off a 2 am when I have to go to work 9 . Screw you!