A New Kind Of July 4th

July 4th has always been the biggest-deal holiday in my family. It’s my father’s favorite and the one holiday when he really goes all out. He gets the BIG fireworks and really puts on a show. Growing up, we would go out of the way to all of these fireworks tents, getting (often-illegal) fireworks. My brother and I would have fun with snakes and tanks and party poppers and snappers throughout the 3rd and the 4th. We would be out in the driveway, just having a good time.

The night of the 4th, my dad would go all out and it was usually a big affair. It’s not like he did this in the middle of the city. We were at relatives in the country or at his house with permission from the neighbors (he was always very respectful about that, luckily where we lived most people are fireworks enthusiasts and did not mind). We were with my grandparents of step-grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles, maybe a friend or two from my dad’s work and so on. It was always a social thing and everyone, even those who had been with us in past years, were always impressed.

I haven’t actually spent July 4th with my dad however, since I was maybe fifteen, so more than half of my life. I had forgotten how much fun sharing this holiday with him was.

My husband, Roy, and I were originally going to visit Omaha for Memorial Day weekend, but that didn’t work out. So then we shot for the last week of June, but by that time I thought, “Wait, why not the fourth?” I thought Roy would really enjoy spending the holiday with my family and thought how much fun it could be. I was excited, that nostalgic happy place meeting my present happy place – the best of both worlds. We made that work, though the making it work was a tad bumpy, and Roy got to experience his first Whelan Independence Day.

My dad waited for us before getting any fireworks because in his own words “that’s part of the experience”. Roy said he was overwhelmed by looking at fireworks tents, especially because he was told to get whatever he wanted and he didn’t know what to look for, but he did end up choosing some, as did I, and we had a good time.

We shot off fireworks on the 3rd and the 4th. When I say we shot off, yes we lit the fireworks ourselves, something Roy hadn’t done before, at least the big stuff that we had. He had a blast (hey, see what I did there?) lighting things. He even bought adult snappers and threw them at me, which I was less thrilled about. But it was a good time. I lit some too, the most memorable was a big firework that seemed to be a dud but then just before we were considering to approach it, it launched and went off about fifteen feet off the ground. Oopsie! But that’s what makes a good story.

It took me back to all the July 4ths growing up. I always had fun, and no matter what else was going on, it was a time to be light and happy. Roy had a great time too and said that we may need to make it an annual tradition. He was amazed at how many people in my dad’s subdivision were doing the same thing, because where I grew up it really is a huge majority. Every house on my dad’s street were lighting up or out front in lawn chairs watching all of the fireworks shows.

I’m really happy that this year worked out. I’m happy to share such a special memory/tradition with my husband and it was awesome to see this experience through his eyes as a first. I know that I’ll think of that and smile and I can’t wait to do it all again next year! 😀

-DMW

Quick note, because I feel it’s important – being considerate with fireworks. Even though my family has always been super into it, we’re also aware of animals, veterans, and work the next day. My father lives in a subdivision where every house does it and the city allows it for five days during certain times, which my dad follows. We always finished before 10:00 on both nights, which is why we did it over two nights instead of just one. We cleaned the street when we were finished. My dad let neighbors know beforehand, etc. I think this holiday would be so much more enjoyable for everyone, if people were more aware and considerate. Fireworks are fun, but not at midnight, not for two weeks straight or in June or late July. You can celebrate and be courteous and respectful. My dad has always done this, and if neighbors weren’t on board, we went to a relative’s farm where there were no neighbors. So consider this a PSA at the end of my pro-fireworks post. It’s great to have a good time, and I come from a big family of fireworks enthusiasts living in a city full of fireworks enthusiasts but that doesn’t mean everyone is into it. Hoping everyone had a fun, responsible fourth of July, and here is to many more in the future!

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