By JAMES EIK
We all enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July.
After all, without them it's a pretty quiet night. They're big, loud and the good ones cause a good thump in your chest. Sure you're basically setting fire to a big pile of money, but that pile of money isn't going to explode in a brilliant display of colors in the sky.
As a child, I enjoyed the couple of Fourth of July trips my family made to the West coast to see relatives. I still have fond memories of sitting with neighbors, their families and the largest collection of fireworks I'll likely ever see.
There were the typical sparklers and those nasty worms that leave scorch marks on a driveway. And, of course, there was always a good two or three larger ones to end the night. All under the discretion of responsible adults who held safety in the highest regard, the night went off without a hitch. It was an Independence Day to remember.
Unfortunately, I'll never be able to recreate such great experiences in Spokane.
This July marks the 20th year of a fireworks ban that encompasses just about every part of the county. Only Medical Lake, Airway Heights and Deer Park allow “safe and sane” fireworks to be discharged.
It's a shame, really.
The only public fireworks displays in the area are in downtown Spokane, Liberty Lake and Coeur d'Alene. While they feature the large mortar explosions that can give chills, all three vary each year, depending on funding. Not to mention, there are the endless throngs of crowds.
Seeing the bursts of color above homes from blocks away with my relatives was a sight to behold. In short, it was the true experience of a holiday.
Families came together to have fun and be with each other. There wasn't any stress over parking, finding a spot to watch the show or hauling chairs, coolers and other items for miles. Sure, there was the occasional gray hair spent on a petty squabble or two that came up. But, compared to escaping Coeur d'Alene at midnight after the show, it was heaven.
The Spokane County fireworks ban has been around long enough that it's become a part of life. Public safety officials say injuries, fires and other damage have sharply decreased since its inception. That sounds like a win on the surface.
But, when the younger generation like myself, who grew up under the ban, leaves Spokane County, things could get problematic. Those few who don't use them properly can spoil it for the rest of the bunch.
After all, that's how we ended up with the restriction in the first place; reckless disregard for others.
I don't know if the fireworks ban will be lifted, but I hope someday it is. I'm likely drawing the ire of some for even suggesting such a thing.
But the Fourth of July is one day a year. It's one day each year where parents can teach valuable lessons to their children about safe fireworks use, if they are allowed in their city, and to celebrate our independence.
It's a funny way to close, but fireworks on the Fourth of July are a perfect vehicle for instruction. I can't think of a better way to give the lesson of independence than teaching a younger generation about safety, values and compassion through fireworks.