Ah yes, the 4th of July. A national holiday dedicated to grilling meats, crushing brews, and most importantly – blowing shit up. If you’re like me, you grew up watching city-funded firework shows and running around shooting roman candles at your friends. However, when it comes to buying and lighting off fireworks, not all state policies are created equal. Here’s a general rundown of what you need to know in order to maximize your pyrotechnic viewing experience on America’s 245th birthday.
If all you want to do this 4th is sit back and partake in the oohs and aahs of a public firework show, then you’re in luck. As per usual, most major cities in the country will be hosting a fireworks celebration for local viewing. And while every small town and country bumkin may think they’ve got the best show in America, some definitely stand above the rest. According to Town and Country Magazine, the top five displays in the country will be located in New York, Nashville, Washington D.C, Chicago, and Boston. Essentially, if you’ve got a heavy accent, Town and Country Mag thinks your fireworks are the shit (except for you New Jersey).
Now if you’re a west coast resident, you might be thinking that’s a little biased to say the least. After all, with LA, San Francisco, and Portland among others, you’d expect at least a little pizazz. Unfortunately for residents of Portland and Seattle, many of the major fireworks displays planned for the 4th have been canceled due to social distancing concerns. On the other hand, if you live in southern California, you’re in luck. Everywhere from La Jolla to Burbank to friggen Disneyland will be celebrating with a seizure-inducing celebration of freedom the night of the 4th. Then again, these are crazy times, so be sure to check the news for possible cancellations before setting up Adirondack chairs in the park.
Maybe you’re not feeling a public show this year. Whether it’s the comfort of social distance or your drunk pyromaniac of an uncle trying to impress the neighbors – setting off your own fireworks can be a great alternative to public gatherings. That is if your state laws allow for such heinous fun. The only state that doesn’t sell fireworks of any kind to the public is Massachusetts. That means no mortars, no M-80’s, not even sparklers (but their public firework shows are pretty sweet so get over it Massholes). Speaking of sparklers, Ohio, Illinois, and Vermont are also pretty strict, limiting their firework sales to sparklers and other wannabe explosives.
When I think of fireworks, I imagine something you put on the ground, light, and running away from like a little schoolgirl, in the hopes of watching it shoot up into the sky and explode in a colorful burst of visual splendor. Well according to Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C, the only “fireworks” available for public sale are non-aerial and non-explosive. This includes sparklers, party poppers, snakes, and pop-its. Now that might sound pretty lame (it kind of is), but given concerns such as the massive wildfires in California, these laws aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Nevertheless, if you live anywhere else, you’re free to purchase and go nuts within your respective state’s guidelines and timeframes.
Above all else, don’t be like Terry here and get out of the damn way when someone lights that shit.