The ‘oohs’ & ‘ahhs’ of fireworks

By David Lindeman
Contributing columnist

I am not generally a big fan of fireworks in the hands of amateurs.

I like the “oohs’ and “ahhs” generated by the big professional fireworks displays. But I flinch when I hear fireworks going off in my neighborhood. I looked it up, and last year there were 11,500 people injured in fireworks accidents. This is what happens when you put projectiles full of various amounts of gunpowder in the hands of people who either don’t know what they’re doing or who have been drinking beer all day long.

The week leading up to July 4, you can pretty much set your clock by the fireworks going off each night. You might hear a firecracker here or there during the day, but around 10 p.m. each night the big ones start going off. That’s OK with me (as long as someone doesn’t blow himself up). Even my cats are used to it. However, there are more than a few dogs I know who pretty much get traumatized each time someone lights up a bottle rocket.

Years ago, when my wife was in junior high and lived in Westbrook, the family Husky got spooked by fireworks, bolted through the door, and ran off. They searched for the dog for quite a while until finally they got a phone call: “Excuse me, but do you own a huskie? Yes? Is the dog missing? Yes? Well, we think we know where it is.”

It turns out he had bolted from the neighborhood, gone across West Main Street and somehow ended up on the roof of the Helen of Troy Motel. No one is quite sure how he managed this astonishing escape act, but they retrieved the dog and all was well … and they made sure he was in a safe place during future fireworks seasons.

Back in those days, Troy’s big fireworks display was held at the stadium. There would be ground displays inside the stadium with the aerial fireworks set off outside the stadium. It was done by a service club and they did their best, but with limited funds and limited expertise … well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring.

I remember as a kid running around the levee and watching my friends throw firecrackers around at each other. Maybe that’s where I get my aversion to amateurs with fireworks. I do remember when my best friend in high school fired up an entire box of maybe 1,000 firecrackers on the basketball court at the park. Now, that was inspiring. He almost killed us all.

These days, the city gets help funding the fireworks from the Troy Foundation and other sources. That has allowed the city to up its game considerably. As I said, I am not necessarily a big fireworks fan, but my wife is and so each year we find a place to watch the fireworks.

We’ve watched them from the Hobart parking lot on Ridge Avenue; from various houses along Water Street; from the small triangle park where Franklin and East Main Street meet; even from down by Miami Shores. In recent years, we’ve gone to the levee behind Van Cleve School. We carry our chairs and spray ourselves with bug spray and watch the big show.

This year we scoped out our spot on the levee and hoped we wouldn’t be vaporized by all the locals launching fireworks off before the big show. Then, at 10 p.m. the real show started and, I have to tell you, that grand finale was over the top. I think everyone would agree it was an impressive show … well, maybe everyone except the local dog population and any other animals within a mile radius. They must think we humans are pretty strange.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].