Eleven score and 14 years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. And this weekend, we’ll celebrate by blowing part of it up.
John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail, said the date of America’s independence would be “celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival,” deserving to be “solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations.”
Adams was on the mark -- though off by two days, since he expected July 2, the date of the approval of the independence resolution, to be the big holiday.
Ah, fireworks and the Fourth. They’re as much a part of life in D.C. as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is to life in New York. When I, as an unknowing hick from New England, asked a college friend from Queens if he went down to Manhattan for that parade, he looked at me like I was crazy.
Now, after a decade in Washington, I see his point. Like a lot of other locals, I either head out of town or hole up at home as the calendar flips over into the first week of July, waiting out the siege of the out-of-towners.
Of course, one need not trek down to the National Mall to experience fireworks in the District. In my neighborhood and many others, the first small street shows start around the first day of summer, with the frequency and decibel level of the pops and the bangs picking up as Independence Day nears.
But the holiday itself is just the opening bell for pyrotechnics season -- cherry bombs, Roman candles, and shells continue to be fired off on random nights into mid-August. Though as The Hill Is Home points out, these are actually illegal in D.C. Only sparklers, dip sticks, those annoying paper caps, and a few others -- “basically nothing more explosive than a Christmas popper” -- are actually permitted.
NBC Washington’s Tom Sherwood says “police and ambulance crews are gearing up for a busy week of calls late into the night,” since “the chance for stupid injuries knows no bounds” during do-it-yourself explosion season. He offers a quick guide to the best spots to see the big show on the Mall -- a better display that won’t blast your fingers off.
If you do have a hankering to set a few off, though, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has released a map of 24 legal spots to buy fireworks in the city.
(Check out our Independence Day section for plenty of options throughout the District.)
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