The Fourth of July is going to be a blast — literally. Despite the failure of the Florida Legislature to reform the state’s fireworks law charade, permanent and temporary pyrotechnic dealers will do a booming business this week. With the Independence Day holiday falling on a Friday, we expect the celebrations to start early and continue through the weekend.
To paraphrase Voltaire, “With great powder comes great responsibility.” Fireworks buyers have little to fear for telling vendors the little white lie that they plan to use them to scare aware birds or illuminate a dark road, but the spread of private fireworks displays does carry risk, including personal injury and property damage. In Southwest Florida, there is also the risk of a fireworks-ignited wildfire. Spotty rainfall this summer could heighten that danger.
Marking our forefathers’ revolutionary break from Great Britain will always include fireworks. John Adams, a Founding Father and second president of the United States, wrote to his wife Abigail that the occasion “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” We doubt he could have envisioned how his future countrymen would embrace that belief.
We turn to the National Council on Fireworks Safety for some tips for ensuring a safe and happy celebration.
• Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
• A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities; parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
• Use fireworks away from buildings and vehicles.
• Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
Visit www.fireworkssafety.org for a more comprehensive list.
The safest way to enjoy a Fourth of July fireworks show is to take in one of the several displays planned in the area.
In Bartow, the July 4th Celebration gets underway at 4 p.m. There are six bands to play on stage at Mosaic Park and the Nattional Guard will be there with cannons. Fireworks are scheduled at 9:30 p.m.
In Lake Wales, the annual tradition of shooting off the fireworks on the banks of Lake Wailes.
The festival begins at 2 p.m. on the lake.
Music will be brought by Parties by Robert, who will also orchestrate a few kids’ games, including a water balloon toss, a hula hoop contest, chalk art, and others.
The fireworks will blast off from the Kiwanis Park end of the lake, but are visible all over the city.
The fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m.
Also, at Eagle Ridge Mall, there will be a Friday, July 4 Fest, from noon-4 p.m., with free live music and family entertainment, prizes and giveaways.
In Fort Meade there is a community celebration at Patterson Park. The Women’s Club will again hold an auction at 8 a.m. July 4, at the American Legion Post adjacent to the park, and include a pancake breakfast. The auction will start after the breakfast. The ceremonies open for the city celebration at 4 p.m. at the American Legion with the reading of the Declaration of Independence, Presentation of Colors and the National Anthem. The fireworks are scheduled at 9 p.m. Also at the stage will be the Master and Miss Firecracker contest at 4:30 p.m., Most Patriotic Little Dog and Most Patriotic Big Dog at 6 p.m.
So have a blast this week, at home or at a festival, but use common sense to make sure the holiday doesn’t turn tragic.