Good Idea: Local governments hosting Fourth of July fireworks. Even in a major metropolitan area like we have here, not everyone can go or will want to go into San Francisco for fireworks. Or even into Berkeley. So it’s great when the smaller communities such as San Pablo have their own shows.
Better Idea: Add kid’s carnival games and some physical activities, with the proceeds going to support the city’s social services.
Bad Idea: Not ensuring that at least one food vendor will be selling coffee and other hot beverages. (OK, maybe this isn’t a bad idea in some parts of the world. Around here it is.)
Worse Idea: Limit your advertising of the event to a small roadside banner. Don’t spell-check the description on the city’s website*. And above all, make sure it isn’t listed in the major newspapers’ lists of things to do on the Fourth. Remember: nobody’s going to show up if they don’t know about it!
* “Mowtown” music? Really?
Good Idea: Amateur/guerrilla fireworks around the civic fireworks venue. I know I’m going to take some flack for this, especially since it’s illegal in most of California, including this part. But IMNSHO, as long as it’s limited to a few blocks around the official site, I don’t have a problem with it. Police and fire fighters are already on-site so they can keep an eye on it. It gives the crowd at the official site something to do during that last half hour when the games have been shut down. And, let’s face it, the people and animals living in the immediate vicinity are going to be traumatized by the noise and lights anyway.
Bad Idea: Aiming your fireworks to burst above the official site. Too many people are distracted, keeping track of their kids. Even if you have no misfires, showering ash down on somebody trying to corral a pre-school kid up past his bedtime is impolite at best.
Worse Idea: Bringing your Chihuahua or other non-service dog to the show. It’s too cold for the poor critter, and he’s not going to enjoy the show. And neither are you if you’re spending all your time reassuring your pet.
Still Worse Idea: Continuing your show after the official one starts. Trying to compete just makes you look like a three-year-old repeating “Look what I did, Mommy!” and demanding your painting be framed and hung in the living room instead of attached to the refrigerator with a magnet. Plan ahead and schedule your show to finish at the community show’s posted start time. It’ll be late starting–it always is–so you’ll have a few minutes to sweep the debris out of the street before the professionals take over.
I’ll grant a limited dispensation to fire off a few last pieces after the civic show ends. But if you’re still at it more than fifteen minutes later, you’re moving into “Impolite Asshole” territory. People are trying to drive home. Others are trying to sleep–don’t forget, July 5 is a work day five years out of seven. And the streets are too full for the fire department to get to you if something goes wrong.
See you next year!