Over the Independence quasi-holiday week (now over, unfortunately), we enjoyed two kinds of fireworks: private and public, the former outlawed, the latter allowed by the state of Illinois. Both involved watching colorful explosions at safe distances.
On the last day of June, we were in Grundy Country, camping on some land owned by friends of ours. The good citizens of Grundy County shot off a lot of fireworks that night, till about 11 -- they weren’t about to let the fact that it was five days ahead of the Fourth, or that nannyish legislators in Springfield some decades ago thought the people shouldn’t make their own colorful explosions, spoil their fun.
It wasn’t just kids with firecrackers and bottle rockets. South of us, across a small lake, someone was putting on a show that rivaled some of the municipal shows that I’ve seen. There was no municipality nearby, so we knew that it was private. Someone shot off a few thousand dollars’ worth of professional-looking ’works, and we were lucky enough to be around to see it.
Less expensive fireworks were going off all around, too. I’ll say this for modern roman candles: they’ve got a lot more bang, very literally, that the roman candles of my youth. In those days, they just shot off colorful fireballs. Now the fireballs whiz and bang into mini-displays. That’s progress, and I’m for it.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois, put on a display on the Fourth. In 2004 and ’05, we’d gone all the way to Wheeling, Illinois, quite a few miles away, the first time because we’d heard it was a good show, the second time because it had indeed been a good show. Last year, our presence in Canada on July 4 prevented us seeing any fireworks that day, public or private, since the Canadians never did shake George III or his descendents. We also missed the July 1 festivities of Canada Day by being in Fargo, ND, that day. Close but no cigar.
In Hoffman Estates, we walked a long way from parking on a side street to the grounds of city hall to see a fireworks show. The place was crowded, but at least the show was good. I would have made some changes to the soundtrack, though.
Too much patriotic country music – a little goes a long way – and not enough Sousa. Not only that, they played the Celine Dion’s version of “God Bless America.” Sure, Canadians can love America. It isn’t about nationality. She isn’t Kate Smith.