Excessive Fireworks Foul Up The Fourth
Before I start, let me just say - I enjoy fireworks. Many times, a good fireworks show has been a part of my recreational activities on holidays like Independence Day. When I was a kid, we didn't light off big-time bottle rockets or anything, but we enjoyed watching such shows - and expected that others would include that as part of their revelry.
Let me also say that at the outset, Michigan's lifting of a ban on fireworks didn't bother me at the time. I'm all for trying to find new ways for the state to shore up its budget.
This year, though, seemed different. Ask me, and I'll say it felt like a blatant disrespect for others.
My backyard neighbor was firing off pyrotechnics of a massive size. They sounded (and felt) like canons going off. The display - while beautiful - was akin to any municipal fireworks show. Except it was in my backyard.
I had a range of concerns. First, how long was this going to go on? Second, were those flaming papers falling to the ground going to cause a fire - in MY backyard? Third, not having the fireworks law memorized, were THESE huge fireworks among the legal?
Then, there was a concern for pets.
Heaven knows, my cat was hunkered down under furniture she'd never hid beneath before. I couldn't even find her for a while. My neighborhood is full of dogs. Two right next door - whose yard backs up to the fireworks zone. Even the people who were lighting them off have a small, Maltese-like dog. Where was he when this was going on, I wondered.
I took to social media to complain. A flood of friends replied. Many of them were in communities where fireworks had been banned this year over concerns about the dryness of the terrain - and fire danger. Several of them talked about how their neighbors were setting off fireworks anyway - at all hours.
One friend, near downtown Kalamazoo, said they were going off at all hours. For several days. She was awakened numerous times in the middle of the night by her neighbors' fireworks. She - and others around the state - wondered if law enforcement was even attempting to address these violations.
Then, Tuesday morning, I walked down my driveway and found the remnants of people's fireworks strewn on my concrete and lawn. These were of the more-common variety, so I don't think these were the remnants of the canon-lighters. Instead, these were likely other neighbors shooting them off in the street - then leaving their fireworks garbage for me to clean up.
What's the solution? Re-institute the ban? Tighten the verbiage of the law? Better enforcement? After this startling year, I'm ready to root for a re-instituted ban.
Come on, folks. I'm quite sure when lawmakers lifted these bans, they were still expecting us to respect our neighbors and exercise safety and good common sense. Oh, and we could clean up our messes, too.
Judging by the comments I've read and heard, a lot of us didn't.