I love fireworks. I can't imagine anyone not liking fireworks, though I am sure there are some who dislike them for various reasons. To me they are magical. They can also instantly transport a person back in time to other years and past displays, with many wonderful memories.
My first memory of a fireworks display was most likely from 1950. We were living in a small village in the Finger Lakes Region. The fireworks were the culmination of the annual Fourth of July celebration in the village. My younger brother and I accompanied our parents to the area behind the local school to watch the program. It was amazing. I can remember being spellbound by what I was seeing. I can also remember my brother closing his eyes and putting his hands over his ears because of the loud "booms" that accompanied the fireworks.
This became an annual and greatly anticipated tradition for our family until we moved to a suburb of New York City in New Jersey a few years later. Here the local fireworks display was held at the country club that was just up the road from where we lived. There were now five children in our family and everyone eagerly anticipated the Fourth of July.
Since I had many friends my own age, I did not stay with the family to watch the fireworks but went instead with my friends. We had a great time. I can remember running with everyone while the display was going on; then when the big booms went off, we all fell to the ground pretending to be soldiers in a war game.
This became another annual tradition for my friends and me until my family moved to a small town in the Catskill Mountains in the early '60s. Here there were no fireworks on the Fourth of July. I could not believe it. Instead, I learned that there would be fireworks at the Annual Firemen's Field Days. This was a weekend-long event that included a parade with volunteer fire units from all the other small towns in the area. During the day, there were small rides and games for the children as well as various skill contests for the adults. The highlight of the weekend, for me anyway, was the fireworks display on the last night. Even though I was in the final years of high school, they still had a special fascination for me. I was older now and no longer participated in any "war games" with my friends. Being "cool" was now the mode for watching fireworks, especially with your girlfriend of the moment.
When I became an adult, I still had the same love for fireworks that I had growing up, but I never fully articulated this feeling into a reality for my family. I believe that I missed a golden opportunity as a parent to develop a timeless love in my children and then, hopefully, for them to pass it along to their children.
Since fireworks are no longer simply for the Fourth of July, there are many opportunities to view them throughout the year. Because of their popularity, they are a special part to many celebrations or unique events. I have seen fireworks displays all around the world, and even though I am now in my mid-60s, I still get the same thrill that I once did as a small boy. I know that fireworks were not invented in America, but to me they are as American as apple pie. Fireworks are simply pure fun. They thankfully have zero political implications and are unique in themselves — just like each of us.
Michael K. Hall, of Lake View, is a retired school superintendent who has always loved fireworks.