posted by Matt W on July 4th, 2012

Fireworks are one of my earliest memories. When I was a kid, every Fourth of July, the City of Seattle put on a huge display from a barge in the middle of Elliott Bay for the whole city. My grandparents had a house with a great view of the bay so every year on the Fourth, we would go over to their house, wait until it got dark, and then watch the amazing fireworks display. I remember sitting on the deck, eating huge amounts of great fresh food, and being totally in awe of the show.

As I got older, I still enjoyed a good fireworks show, but became a much more active participant in the display (and I have the fireworks burn scar on my thumb to prove it). My particular favorites were bottle rockets, as you could actually aim them; well kind of. I’m pretty sure the burn on my thumb was from holding on to the “aiming stick” a little too long. When we were kids on the Fourth, my buddy and I would go over to a lake house, and we would try to hit objects in the lake with the rockets. He once put a bottle rocket through an inner tube from about 100’; very cool when you are in Junior High. We would also light them on fire, throw them up in the air as high as we could, and then see where they would go when they actually ignited. God, kids are dumb.

Firecrackers were also a treat. My favorite firecracker story is about the left over firecrackers we had after the Fourth one year. My high school buddies and I stumbled across a blue van parked in a discreet part of a parking lot. It was one of those custom vans from the 80s, and on the side of it were the words “Seventh Blue Heaven.” With that name, we assumed it was a couple having sex, it was a perfect opportunity to throw firecrackers underneath it and run. We did. And ran into the forest. No one got out of the van.

As fate would have it, we ran into this van parked discreetly in random lots 3 more times over the next few days and we always took the time to throw firecrackers under it and run. Apparently, we realized the need to carry firecrackers and matches everywhere for just such an emergency.

Well the next day, we saw the van parked out in the open in the original lot. As we still had firecrackers left, we couldn’t pass on the opportunity. We all walked over to the van and lit the firecrackers. Before the first one even exploded, the van’s back doors flung open and 4 huge college guys and a cloud of smoke burst out. Needless to say, we ran for our lives.

As I am running through the forest, I sense someone is about to catch me, and thinking I am about to get a beating, I put it into overdrive. Not wanting to lead my assailant to my home, I take an indirect route back to my house and collapse outside behind a big stack of firewood. A few minutes later, Joe A. jogs up and sits down catching his breath and then says, “That was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.”  Wondering if anyone got caught or what happened, I ask what he’s talking about. He answers, “I almost caught up to you in the woods, and right when I thought I had caught up to you, you put it into a different gear and put 100 yards between me and you in a matter of seconds. It was amazing.” Everyone escaped unharmed, and I knew I was a world-class sprinter when I thought I might die.

The Fourth of July, as with seemingly all holidays, is more remembered for the commercialized side than for the struggles of our founders standing up to the British. But as far as the commercialized holidays go, the fourth is one of the best, as what better way to celebrate our independence than fireworks and food? So hopefully you all get to have a great meal and see a cool fireworks display today. It’s also pie week. So remember to have a piece of pie for your holiday desert; what more perfect combination of holidays could there be?

File Under Jack of all Trades