Finally Free to Blow Ourselves Up

I was driving home from the store recently when I spotted a sign in front of a local church, which I found to be quite disturbing.

Fireworks for Kids

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a state where it was not legal for fireworks to be sold at the local supermarket, church, or (I am not kidding) gas station as they are here in South Carolina. The last location is the most mind boggling to me, because I cannot understand placing fireworks just feet away from the gas pumps, but such is life in a fireworks state I guess.

Every year, these temporary pyrotechnics stands pop up before the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. If you live in one of the nineteen states that are very comfortable with their citizens blowing themselves up, you are probably familiar with what I see in my state.

When I was young, I remember standing in my grandmother’s backyard with my cousins on many a summer night holding punks and sparklers. Punks were these very thin sticks, about the size of a sparkler, which someone lit and they emitted a small stream of smoke. I don’t recall them ever doing much more than that. Until now I just assumed one of my uncles purchased them legally.

Sparklers, as you all know, are much more exciting, since they are more like fireworks on a stick. Looking at the map, I am not sure if you used them illegally in New Jersey or were not exposed to them until we moved to North Carolina where any firework which does not leave the ground is legal.

So I checked out the history of fireworks in New Jersey and learned they were all banned—ALL—in 1937 after a very bloody Fourth of July when 927 people were injured or killed. The ban passed by a unanimous vote. The fireworks laws in New Jersey are so strict that possession of any, even those which you purchase legally across the border in Pennsylvania, can result in a fine or jail time.

So if you used them in New Jersey, we could have all been thrown in the pokey! (I didn’t know!!!)

Still, I simply cannot understand the “Fireworks for Kids” sign. What are they thinking?


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