Growing up I used to watch the Las Cruces city fireworks from my parents’ backyard. Every year I forgot just how big and loud the explosions overhead would be. I would wonder, ‘Is that the city show?’ as someone nearby set off a particularly large firework. ‘Or could that be it? Is it starting?’ I would think when a boom came from behind the house. Then the city show actually began and I knew, ‘Oh, those are the city fireworks.’ The fireworks were loud enough I felt the boom inside my chest. The explosion of color seemed to take over the sky.
The colors were beautiful, a cascade of light or a fountain of sparks reaching high into the night. The noise was magnificent, taking over everything.
Before the city fireworks began, we’d eat hamburgers and play charades with friends. Neighbors and people in the neighborhood gathered to see the city show would set off their own fireworks. We lit sparklers and ran around the yard. Dad was prepared with the water hose nearby, just in case. My dad is a just in case kind of guy.
When the city show began, all other activity stopped. The sight and sound of the fireworks so dominated the night sky, there was no alternative but to become enraptured by them.
The first year I worked through the Fourth of July holiday, I was 21 and working retail. There were no vantage points to watch the night sky in the section of the store where I was refolding and rehanging forlorn clothes. But we could still hear those mighty booms as the fireworks began in earnest. There were also almost no customers that evening. It turns out people would rather spend a holiday relaxing than buying a new pair of jeans.
My first summer in Mississippi, I watched a fireworks show put on by the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department in a large open field just across the street from a Dollar General. A political candidate handed out paper fans and watermelon slices. Families gathered in lawn chairs and on picnic blankets. Live gospel music kept us entertained before the sun set and the fireworks started.
Fireworks have been part of Independence Day celebrations in the U.S. since 1777.
I’m excited to find out how Socorro and Magdalena celebrate the fourth. I know Magdalena has an Independence Day parade planned for Saturday and I understand the city of Socorro will have live music and fireworks on the fourth.
Professional fireworks shows seem like a safer option than setting off your own. Of course, I’m a person who’s overly cautious with my candles, so not an appropriate person to be messing with fireworks. I know it’s a trope for news outlets to scare people with stats about how many people get injured by fireworks every year. I have definitely written more than one firework safety story. That said, here are those stats: In the U.S., there were an estimated 4.7 fireworks related injuries per 100,000 people in 2020 (which translates to 15,600 injuries treated in hospital emergency departments). The Consumer Product Safety Commission produces an annual report detailing fireworks related injuries and deaths, in what is probably far more detail than you really want to read. Around 66 percent of the injuries occurred near the fourth, which makes sense, since that’s when people are usually using fireworks. So be cautious friends. Be a just-in-case kind of person, if you’re going to set off your own fireworks.
The dry conditions we’ve been living in and the number of wildfires we’ve seen recently were making me nervous for fireworks season. Luckily there was some rain this week, so it’s not so bone dry. It’s more than a little inconvenient that one of the two times of year that fireworks are most prevalent happens to be in these hot summer months, when the land is dry and the air is dry and I keep looking for that extra chap stick that must be somewhere (It can’t have disappeared into a pocket universe right? Because I swear, it was tucked neatly in an inner pocket of my purse just yesterday and now, poof, gone). It seems like summer rains have usually begun by the fourth, and I am glad that’s the case this year.
I’m excited for all those bright lights and loud noises, but I also find myself repeating the prayer that seems to be on so many New Mexicans’ lips: Please send more rain.