ACROSS AMERICA — Fireworks have already started, legally or outside of legal hours, sparking both joy in neighborhoods across America and an overwhelming desire to be almost anywhere else.
For this installment of Block Talk, we asked Patch readers on Facebook to help us establish a neighborhood etiquette guide on fireworks. When is it OK to set them off? When does your explosive fun start irritating neighbors?
The opening salvo, a cherry bomb of sorts, was lobbed by a Joliet (Illinois) Patch reader with, we’re pretty sure, a wicked fun heart.
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“There is never a wrong time” for fireworks, he asserted, adding “feed me all the onions all day long,” which probably doesn’t mean what you think (while most fireworks are illegal in Illinois, “onions” are not).
“Fireworks rock. My son and I love them all!!!!,” he continued, excitedly we can surmise given all the punctuation. “Scare the crap out of the neighbors, the animals, everyone!!!!!!!! Keep them coming, everyone.”
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Less emphatically, a few other people defended what they see as their right to set off fireworks whenever they want.
“Anytime, never too much,” a Lacey (New Jersey) Patch reader wrote.
“All year-round,” a reader of Concord (New Hampshire) Patch agreed.
A Lindenhurst (New York) Patch reader said fireworks are fine as soon as it’s dark until sunrise; a Wallingford (Connecticut) Patch reader is cool with fireworks “the whole summer, every night;” and a Nashua (New Hampshire) Patch reader thinks fireworks are OK “at night in June” and “all day and night in July.”
These are so not a Newtown (Pennsylvania) Patch reader’s people.
“If you ask my neighbors” when it is OK to set off fireworks, “they’d say, ‘any time of day, any day, for any reason at all, including no reason.'”
Not Everyone Loves Fireworks
She isn’t the only one who didn’t salute the idea of fireworks sovereignty when it was run up the flagpole.
Some did, however, salute veterans.
For some vets, the loud noises and flashes of light can trigger combat memories of gunfire and explosions and arouse the “fight or flight” instinct that kept them alive on the battlefield.
“Have a little respect for our veterans that suffer PTSD and all the fur babies that are afraid of them,” said another Joliet Patch reader, who favors restricting home fireworks displays to the hours between sunset and 11 p.m. on Independence Day only.
Likewise, a Sachem (New York) Patch reader said she’ll make exceptions for fireworks to celebrate the Fourth or New Year’s Eve, “because there is no stopping anyone from doing it.”
“It’s the ones who set them off every single day and night — during the day, in rainy weather — and the ones setting them off after midnight are terrible,” she wrote, adding, “3 a.m. on Sunday wasn’t cool this week.”
“Overall though — people have dogs and animals who are terrified and cower or run away, veterans with PTSD, people who are reactive to loud noises, a danger of burning down houses and hurting people if the fireworks misfire — it’s just better off left to the professionals,” she wrote.
The problem, a Lindenhurst Patch reader said, is that aerial fireworks aren’t legal in New York, “but people who buy them illegally don’t care.” People are generally willing to look the other way on the 4th of July, she said, but beyond that, it’s an imposition.
“They’re noise pollution, ruining the peaceful quality of life one should be able to expect in their residential neighborhoods, but people don’t care,” she wrote. “They terrify pets as they don’t know why they are hearing sporadic explosions and they trigger war veterans, old and new, who suffer from PTSD.”
She wants more enforcement of the state’s laws and said “higher fines might curtail their use.”
A Concord Patch reader agreed it’s important to be mindful of the effect that fireworks have on people who live with PTSD. She pointed out that fireworks terrify dogs, and more are reported missing over the 4th of July holiday than at any other time of the year.
“I don’t want to have to comfort my shaking dog all the time,” the reader wrote, saying she thinks neighborhood fireworks displays should last half an hour, maximum.
A Newtown (Pennsylvania) Patch reader thinks it’s respectful of neighbors to start fireworks when night falls and end no later than 10 p.m. But as for pet owners, “it’s your responsibility to keep them in the house/crate,” she wrote. “Anticipate fireworks on patriotic holidays.”
A Lacey (New Jersey) Patch wouldn’t mind fireworks so much if she had something pretty to ooh and aah over.
“Do what you want,” she said. “I just ask that you put on a show for me to see, and don’t just get the loud ones that do nothing, please and thank you.”
An East Haven (Connecticut) Patch reader said it’s reasonable to expect 4th of July fireworks, though she said there’s “no need in January, February or March” to set off fireworks. And like the woman in New Jersey, she’d like something pretty, please.
“I’ve never been a fireworks fan, and especially not of the loud, useless ones,” she wrote.
A Wallingford Patch said she’s “totally fine with sparklers and smaller things like that,” but “the HUGE explosive ones that seem to be popular lately in my neighborhood, I can’t stand.”
“Not fun,” she pointed out, “when your windows rattle at 10 p.m.”
“At least let it get dark first. I can’t stand when people set them off at 5 p.m.,” a Patchogue (New York) Patch reader wrote. “Like, why?”
Prevailing opinions leaned toward shutting down the noise by 11 p.m., or at least by midnight. Many would like to see the use of fireworks confined to the few days around the 4th of July, including a Joliet Patch reader who said it’s OK for a couple of days, but when they’re still popping off 10 days after the holiday, “it bothers the hell out of me.”
But readers were hardly unanimous.
It’s OK to set off fireworks “in excess” from June 26-July 11, and “year-round, respectfully (not too late, or early) during the week,” a Plainfield (Illinois) Patch reader wrote.
Don’t Set Your Hair On Fire
Where their neighbors set off fireworks matters as much to some readers as when they light them. A Concord Patch reader said it’s important to stage them far enough away so they don’t land in a neighbor’s yard.
“If you’re in a close residential neighborhood with lots of tall, full, dry trees, it doesn’t take much for an aerial to go awry and do some serious damage,” he wrote.
It’s important, a Waukesha (Wisconsin) Patch reader pointed out, to ignite fireworks “away from houses, in a wide, open field” by “adults who respect fireworks and know what they are doing with them.”
The conditions where she lives take the question of when fireworks are OK off the table for a Temecula (California) Patch reader. “Never,” she wrote. “We live in a dry, brush-filled area and unless you want to be held responsible for starting a fire, you’d be smart to attend a county-sponsored event.”
Massachusetts is the least tolerant among states when it comes to consumer fireworks, a fact a Medford Patch reader pointed out. “It would be nice,” she wrote, if authorities enforced the fireworks law and “maybe start sending out robocalls to remind people it’s illegal.”
And another Waukesha Patch reader wants nothing at all to do with fireworks for a more personal reason. “The burn mark left on my arm from a bottle rocket says never,” she wrote.
Let’s bring back those big, professional fireworks shows that many communities canceled during the first two years of the pandemic, several readers chimed in.
“I liked it better when the community gathered at a designated place and watched fireworks together, usually [with] a nice band concert before dark everyone enjoyed,” a Concord Patch reader wrote. ” So much better than everyplace popping those things off willy-nilly!!”
“Seeing that it’s illegal, let professionals do it,” a Joliet Patch reader said. “I love a good fireworks display, but let those pros do it.”
It’s America’s Birthday, Though
Just don’t miss the point of 4th of July parties with fireworks, a Banning-Beaumont (California) Patch reader wrote.
“The thing that people are missing is that it’s a tradition that’s been for many decades,” she explained. “Yes people are going a little overboard, but it’s nothing new. We all know it’s coming and should be expecting it. People shouldn’t act like it’s new and like, just all of a sudden, there’s fireworks. You know it’s coming, so be prepared.”
A Toms River (New Jersey) Patch reader said “the week of 4th of July should be alls-fair because it’s part of the 4th celebrating.”
“Stay within noise hours, and it’s fair game,” he wrote, “because it’s America!”
“Fireworks on the 4th are normal,” a Howell (New Jersey) Patch reader wrote. “People are celebrating America’s birthday. Medicate your dogs and yourself if they bother you. Get your earplugs and stay in your safe space.”
Fireworks are part of what summer sounds like, he pointed out.
“They are lit at baseball games and other events,” wrote the reader, who lives near a military base. “Nobody complains about the military mortars going off at the base. Are they excused because they are the Government? They are as loud as hell and rock my house.
“I say deal with it the best you can.”
About Block Talk
Block Talk is an every-other-week feature on Patch offering real-world advice from readers on how to resolve everyday neighborhood problems. If you have a neighborhood etiquette question or problem you’d like for us to consider, email [email protected], with Block Talk as the subject line.
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Source: Bellevue Patch