Set off your own fireworks!

As a kid, we used to spend thousands of dollars on fireworks every year, which stopped when I was ten (people who know me personally know why). Since then, I've never played with them. I was generally content watching fireworks-based shows, but that all changed this fourth of July (2000). It was the best one I've lived through thus far, thanks to my friend Jason's idea of setting off our own fireworks and, of course, the fun crowd I did it with. (Jason also took the pictures you see above.)

I have been through some spectacular fourth of July events. From the terrific Red, White and Boom celebration in Columbus, Ohio (which is still unparalleled as far as fourth of July fireworks go; when I saw it, they had smiley faces light up the sky) to watching fireworks to the backdrop the National Monument in Washington, DC (the huge crowd and the patriotic atmosphere is terrific, even if I don't think much of patriotism and the fireworks themselves aren't so hot). But as anyone who's been to Walt Disney World knows, Disney tops these fireworks every day (and their fireworks specials are even more of a spectacle to behold).

So on the morning of the fourth, I drove over to Jason's house in Millbrae and after discussing some music and playing an excellent car-racing game, he came up with the idea of buying our own fireworks after Jenn mentioned that she saw a stand in Pacifica selling them (and this is after expressing reluctance to go anywhere to watch a fireworks celebration). We then drove to Pacifica and arrived fifteen minutes before a drawing was to be made for $100 worth of fireworks. We bought $100 worth of fireworks, and ended up winning the drawing at the outset (!), giving us $200 worth of fireworks to burn (after posing for a few pictures with the elderly ladies who were selling the fireworks). We spoke to a couple of police officers who assured us they were legal. We headed back to Millbrae and had a great barbecue, as we watched Godzilla.

Finally, as dusk settled in, we (now including Bagus, Crash, and Raj) decided to drive up the hills of Millbrae to find a good spot to set off the fireworks. Failing to do so, we then headed out to Twin Peaks. After watching a bit (with emphasis, given the fog) of fireworks across the horizon in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, and struggling to light our own in the nippy wind, we headed down to Mission. We walked up and down Mission street, setting off an assortment of fireworks on the foot path and the street, including smoke balls of different colours, spinners, sparklers, fountains and cones. None of them were the aerial or the explosive kind (not permitted by California law), though it is still surprising we were not stopped by the police (given the mayhem we were creating).

After exhausing our stock (in about an hour) we went, reeking of sulphur, to Al's Elbow Room where Jason and I won the last game of pool (pure luck). A nice way to top off the evening.

I've always had a problem with fourth of July type of events. Generally I get pulled in several different directions and am unsure as to which way to go---everyone's having a fireworks extravaganza and I've seen quite a few of them. The conclusion I've come to is that better to be an active participant instead of just passively watching them, given that it's one of those rare opportunities where it's perfectly okay to go a little wild with your pyromania. Spectacular fireworks shows are fun to watch (and this is not a mutually exclusive suggestion), but it is more fun to set off your own, especially if it's in the streets of San Francisco.

All I now need to do is convince people that it's okay to spend a whole day spraying each other with bright hues of colour.

Pseudo-intellectual ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || || July 4, 2000