July 05, 2021
The fireworks display we watched last night were some of the most impressive we have seen in years. I am not fond of large crowds, and it is hard to go to community displays without encountering one. Instead, we stayed home. I tried to watch one of the national displays on TV, but it is not the same watching on a small screen without the noxious smell of gunpowder. That was when the sound of exploding shells began outside our house. When I walked out, you could just see the bursts over the top of the trees from the three different community displays near us. More impressive were the personal displays that began at the same time and lasted well into the night. These were not just roman candles and bottle rockets. They included all the chrysanthemum bursts, artillery shells, and crackles usually reserved for the community displays. They even appeared to have “Repeaters.” These preset boxes of are chain-fused fireworks that shoot a series of aerial shells, comets, or mines from collectively attached tubes to produce various colors, noises, and effects. I could not imagine what those might have cost.
The earliest fireworks came from China during the Song dynasty (960–1279) and were used to accompany celebrations and festivities. The art and science of making fireworks developed into an independent profession in China, where pyrotechnicians were respected for their knowledge of complex techniques in mounting firework displays. Fireworks displays were common among both the local people and the grand displays by the emperors. Fireworks were produced in Europe by the 14th century and became widely popular by the 17th century. Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed by George Frideric Handel in 1749 to celebrate the Peace treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had been declared the previous year. The modern-colored fireworks were invented in the 1830’s as modern chemistry added different chemicals to make the brilliant colors.
As we approached the fourth of July all the talk was about the potential lack of fireworks. When I looked online for the reason, I found that fireworks were the latest casualty of the supply chain crisis. Many large vendors have not been able to replenish their inventory from last year. Last year also saw a record demand for fireworks as the pandemic canceled many of the community shows and “forced” Americans to create their own fireworks shows. The buying frenzy caused vendors to sell out early and depleted supplies for 2021. First manufacture, and later shipping problems, have caused the prices to soar and availability to wane. Just like the toilet paper run last year, my neighborhood seemed to get their supply of fireworks before they ran out.
Thoughts: Not long after we were married Melissa and I decided to checkoff one of her bucket list items, attending a Pops Fourth of July. We arrived in Boston the night before and took in some of the sights. One of the things I do not like about crowds is trying to drive home after the event is over. We instead walked to the Commons. Even though it was early afternoon, we joined the throng of people moving toward the park. We soon heard the 300,000-person capacity near the stage had been filled. Instead, we joined the rest of the 3,000,000 who sat near one of the 40’ screens that dotted the park. While we did not get the smell, the screen and the crowd were large enough to make you feel you were there. As we come out of the pandemic, there are many traditions that have been altered to meet the new normal. This is neither good nor bad, as much as different. It also illustrates the ingenuity humans have when it comes to continuing traditions. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.