These are a mixed bag depending on the amount of cash you spend on them. The cheapest of the cheap take off with nary a sound and explode in a weak pop. After exploding the stick and remnants flutter down into your neighbor’s swimming pool. A few minutes later a knock on the door and a brief conversation with said neighbor convinced you to shoot them in a different direction. Spend a quarter more and you get a “report” which means the rocket squeals as it launches into the atmosphere and pops. Bigger bottle rockets produce more audible explosions and may even include a splash of color making them suitable to fire at night. These were always a good time waster to play with through the day before the main attractions in the evening but don’t work these into a backyard show unless you want to see a lot of disappointed faces.
Roman Candles are always fun. Light the fuse and several shots are ejected from the end of the tube at intervals. Some are flares, some explode, and some change colors. Again, these are fun to play around with throughout the day and the larger ones can make for a nice pre-show before you begin shooting your larger fireworks. Another popular use for these was to light the ends and start shooting them at your friends in a massive fire fight. Despite the first degree burns all the participants would have a great time. Regardless of how you use them, Roman Candles are always a favorite.
A novelty item along the line of the tank discussed in part two, the box will typically describe a hen laying multi-colored eggs. Maybe some of these are different but in my experience lighting the hen always results in a cascade of sparks shooting out of it’s ass. They aren’t necessarily bad, but when you’re expecting to see some Easter egg-esque projectiles the sparks are always a bit of a letdown. The hen isn’t a bad firework but it’s essentially a small sideways fountain. Your cash is probably better spent elsewhere.
Spinner’s are similar to the flying saucers I discussed back in part 2 except they lack the element of flight. Whereas a flying saucer begins spinning rapidly and then propels itself upwards, spinners just rotate along the ground shooting sparks. Sometimes they’re referred to as blooming flowers because of this. They aren’t bad to mess around with throughout the day, and as a kid I always seemed to have fun with them because they make quite a commotion as they spin along the ground. Otherwise there isn’t anything particularly alluring about them.
Not a true firework, packs of these always find their way into stores around Fourth of July and again before New Years Eve. Generally sold in jurisdictions where fireworks are illegal, party poppers do have a place. Weddings, birthday parties, and indoor events are great instances in which to partake in the party popper. Fourth of July however is not one of these times. Avoid them at all costs this holiday. As an aside, these are fantastic for scaring the pants off of an unsuspecting victim. I remember an occasion in which my father had just gotten home from work and he didn’t realize I was in the house. I hunkered down in a doorway adjacent to the hall. As he turned the corner I pulled the string on one of these and the ribbons flew perfectly across his face before opening directly in front of him and floating down to the carpet. When used inside these do make a pretty loud popping sound. Needless to say he was quite surprised and left breathless. I was proud of myself and considered it one of my finer moments. It’s less impressive when one takes into account that I was in high school at the time.
Mortars, tubes, and artillery shells are the “real” fireworks. If you want to put on a show for your friends and family, this is where you start your base. Nearly everything up to this point was just cheap entertainment throughout the day to pass time. Mortars are when things begin to get serious. Drop a shell into the tube and light the fuse. After a few seconds a loud boom ensues and the shell is propelled skyward. Once airborne, mortars can have any variety of effects but they all share two traits: they are very loud and they are impressive to see and hear. The bulk of most shows are comprised of these types of fireworks.
Now you’re talking. The great thing about repeaters is that with a single light you are treated to multiple shots that generally last 20 seconds to several minutes. Repeaters look like boxes with a fuse attached and come in all kinds of varieties. Some smaller ones simply shoot off a large assortment of bottle rocket type projectiles while the larger 500 gram repeaters are often used as finales. Even the smallest and least expensive repeaters are a treat. After lighting one firework after another to generally get a single payoff, it was always exciting to watch a repeater continue to entertain well after you had run away from the crackling fuse. You can’t go wrong by picking these up.
This concludes our three part look into fireworks, my memories of them, and some descriptions based on what I can recall. Every year Fireworks stores coast to coast try to prey on the unsuspecting consumers who traipse into their establishments with cash in hand and ready to blow things up. Don’t get sucked into the BOGO hype and try to avoid some of the more suspect novelty items. Armed with first hand accounts and a brief description of what you’re getting, hopefully you can avoid the trials and pitfalls I experienced and spend your money wisely. That is of course if you consider spending hard earned cash on explosives a wise decision in the first place. Happy 4th of July everyone!