Thursday, July 5, 2012

best fireworks ever

We're mad for the Fourth here because we are pyroGEEKS.  Mr. D buys his very own (he knows a guy who knows a guy who gets "special" fireworks that are legal in 2 countries) and blasts them off in our back yard each year.  We watch the city fireworks and festival fireworks. We're connoisseurs of the art of pyrotechnology.  We rate shows based on length, volume, ground display, assortment, variety and effect.  We know the difference between glitter and flitter.  (Told you we are geeks.)  I've seen fireworks in a tiny Iowa town, in a Major League ballpark, at Disney World and even in London to celebrate the opening of the Millennium Bridge.  (That last show was particularly spectacular with synchronized explosions taking place on both sides of the bridge.)  I love the huge blasts, the reverb of BOOM in my chest, the snapping crackling ones, the rockets that soar before becoming a chrysanthemum of color against the night sky, the Roman Candles that gently Pouf-Pouf-Pouf as they arc above us.

But every year as I'm parked on the lawn, reeking of OFF and gazing at the sparkling lights, I recall The Best Fireworks Ever.  It's inevitable to reflect on all the fireworks one has seen, but the most magical show was back in 1976 (or thereabouts). 

When I was little my best friend CC was a princess wedged between two brothers and she had a pink ruffled bedroom, kinky brown hair and a penchant for theater.  She had a big grin, a huge imagination and her mom made the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches (which years later I identified as being made from white bread and Velveeta--who knew?).  CC's father sailed and my dad sailed with him, CC's folks were actually family friends, but in my mind CC and I had a more exclusive sort of relationship. 

The Best Fireworks Ever exploded off the shore of Sheboygan, WI and that 4th of July CC and I reclined on the bow of her dad's sailboat, gently and rhythmically bobbing on Lake Michigan.  Sated with grape Jolly Good soda (a whole can for each of us!) and Jiffy Pop Popcorn (prepared in the boat's twee galley atop a small gas stove with 3 burners), we were twin sisters stuffed in our sweatshirts and bright orange life jackets. 

From our spot overlooking Lake Michigan we watched the fireworks shot off in the harbor.  The fireworks shimmered above us in the sky and below us, reflected on the water.  CC and I planned our  future that night--how we'd sail around the world alone on a boat, just the two of us, and become Rich and Famous and Fearlessly Adventurous.  She'd become an actress/singer/TV star, I'd become a poet/dancer/artist and we'd wear shiny dresses like the Mandrell Sisters (she was always Barbara, I was Louise because I had dark hair).  We'd travel to every country in the world and be Fabulous.

We were young and anything was possible from that perch between the expanse of Lake Michigan and the starry sky.

No fireworks I've seen since measure up to the amazing show that night. 

Spill it, reader.  What's your best fireworks memory?


  1. My best was also when I was a kid, still in elementary school, although I'm not sure what grade. This was back when they let you get a lot closer to the fireworks. My dad parked the car, and we sat on the hood, and the fireworks exploded right over our head --you felt like you could reach up and catch the falling sparks.

    My husband is generally a pyro as well, and buys fireworks across the stateline in WI, where they can sell stuff that Illinois can't. But none for us this year --a stray spark would set everything on fire because of the drought. If it rains later in the summer, we'll probably let some off then.

  2. Best fireworks for me was about 18 years ago on a dock on the harbor in Baltimore. It felt like the fireworks were just for us. Haven't been able to top it yet.

  3. I have great memories as a kid parking by my grandparent's house near down downtown Green Bay and walking down to watch the fireworks.

  4. I absolutely love fireworks so I have seen a lot of them. The most amazing display I have ever seen was at Cincinnati's Riverfest several years ago. The fireworks are shot from barges on the Ohio River and they also have things going on two bridges. The sky was so full of sparkling light that all I could see was fireworks - they completely filled my vision. Wow, still gets me all verklempt thinking about it.

    Riverfest is held every year - you guys should go!

  5. My best fireworks memory is a little bit naughty (blush) so I'll keep it to myself. It was in Houston though! ;-)

    Love your fireworks memories - fun times!

  6. The big fireworks night in Holland is New Year's Eve. When I was younger, we lived close to two Chinese restaurants. They were located across the street from each other. New Year's Eve for them was about who had the most impressive display. It lasted forever! The next morning you could wade knee deep through red wrapper remnants.

    Did you hear, well read since there wasn't much to hear, about San Diego's fireworks show last night? They all went off at once, bringing the 20 minute show back to 15 seconds. Teehee...

  7. My favorite fireworks memory is from when I was in grad school in Washington, DC. My friends & I went down to the national mall for the big picnic party. It was hot, so my friend decided to go swimming in the fountain but luckily did not get arrested. And the music to accompany the fireworks was good - not rock music, but John Philip Sousa. I love a good marching band march.

  8. I'm so riveted by your stories of you and CC that I can't even remember the best fireworks I ever saw.

    I will say that I loved the 4th when I was growing up and my hometown always put on a great show.

  9. Last night watching them from a boat in the lake was pretty amazing and definitely one of the best shows I've ever seen. Other notable ones were the ones here a few years back that DMB underwrote after the folks that usually paid for them had to back out, threatening to cancel the fireworks in the hometown of the man who wrote that little Declaration of Independence that some people think started the whole 4th of July thing. There was also a show in Philly one year on the 4th that ranks high. I remember the ones in 1976 too - I think that was just a good year for fireworks with all the bicentennal business going on.

    I love the Fourth of July.

  10. We always spent the 4th in Canada at my aunt's cottage, across Lake Erie from Buffalo, NY. We would watch the fireworks display in Buffalo, from across the lake and it was always magical.

  11. Every summer our family would join a ton of friends for a July 4th celebration and watch fireworks shot over the Delaware River. My best friend and I would lie on these huge rocks warmed by the sun (the only time we were allowed on the rocks all year) and giggle in anticipation. It's just not the same as a grown up.

  12. Love a great Fireworks display!!

  13. You set fireworks off in your back yard I am so bloody jealous I remember as a child we had cracker night each year now days it is illegal to set off your own fireworks what a bumma anyway back to the point when I was a child I loved cracker night it was the best night of the year even better then Christmas Eve

    I remember the year I met Tim 1983 we had managed to burn my boob with a sparkler I was chasing my brother around and fell yes I was nearly 21 but it was still a lot of fun and my brother was only 4 at the

  14. We always take the pontoon boat to the middle of the lake, throw in the anchor and watch them from there. Truthfully, they're never spectacular, but beer and popcorn is pretty good, along with the company.

    What's CC doing now?

  15. It's every year that our family and the Owens family played Frisbee and Bocce ball and drank beer and ate fried chicken on the Coronado golf course and then watched the fireworks explode from a barge in the Big Bay as we snuggled together and then beat the traffic over the bridge with our super-secret parking trick.

    Thom Owens died in April of 2008 and we haven't watched fireworks since. Someday, but not yet.

  16. wow what a memory...I love fireworks but we have to wait till November the 5th here!!

  17. Oh I love this. Love it.
    The 4th of July has been a favorite of mine since I was a child and growing up in Sheboygan I know the fireworks show. And nothing is better than watching them from a boat. So awesome. When I was a kid we would go down the the beach at around 6 a.m. (or even sleep on the beach the night before when we got a bit older) and start digging our pits. They were HUGE holes in the sand big enough for about 15 people and a firepit in the middle. We'd spend the day swimming and eating and talking and playing. It was the BEST. My uncle came from out of town and drove past the lake. He was amazed at all the pits and said that he thought it looked like an ant village or something.
    At night we would hunker down in our pits and watch the fireworks. Those were the days. :)
    Loved this post! :)


Spill it, reader.