The Origins of Fireworks
For the last month, I’ve had someone in my apartment complex lighting fireworks. Most of the time it’s come at night but yesterday another one went off as I was returning to my apartment around 3. Why would you do that during the day when you can’t even see it? This was my thought.
Another thought I had was where does our fascination with lighting things on fire on Independence Day come from? Has it always been this way or did someone at some point accidentally blow up the wrong ship or bridge on July 4 causing everyone within distance to shout AMERICA!
I wanted to know the answer to this so I worked the Google Machine and discovered that before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, John Adams envisioned a grand spectacle to celebrate the day of our independence.
In a letter to his wife on July 3, 1776, Adams wrote that the holiday should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The following year on July 4, that’s exactly what happened.
This became kind of a big deal and in the years that followed, fireworks were available for people to buy in the form of rockets, wheels, cherry trees, fountains and other creative explosive devices. My personal favorite in new firework technology is the spinner. Not only does it light up and makes a cool sound, but you never know where it’s going to fly. Those stationary fireworks are for amateurs.
But the earliest documented fireworks did not originate in the US. They came from China (They’ve beaten us again!) all the way back in the 7th century. Part of the culture in China, pyrotechnics were used for important events and festivities such as the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and the Mid-Autumn Festival. All these years later, China remains the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.
I would love to witness an enormous fireworks show in a big city someday. Perhaps something overlooking the water so I could see the beautiful light show from two different perspectives. But Pilot Butte in Bend will have to do for now. Hey, at least I get to experience the drama of not knowing whether or not the butte catches on fire after the big show. Everybody loves an encore.
Virginia Student Jailed for Possession of Bottled Water and Ice Cream
The next time you decide to buy water and ice cream at night, be sure to have your head on a swivel.
A University of Virginia student didn’t and was arrested by seven plain-clothed agents from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control division even though she was carrying bottled water, cookie dough and ice cream.
Mistaking a sky-blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water for a 12-pack of beer, the agents acted aggressively toward 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly. One of the agents reportedly jumped onto the hood of Daly’s car T.J. Hooker style and another according to Daly drew their gun.
Why did she then spend a day-and-half in jail if all she had was H2O and ice cream? Daly, along with two roommates who were in the car, reacted as if the agents were dangerous criminals and attempted to drive away.
“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform,” Daly said.
“I couldn’t put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were … terrified.”
Eventually the three roommates escaped the parking lot and one of them dialed 911. Instead they were stopped by a vehicle with identifiable sirens and lights.
Daly then explained that the water and ice cream was for a sorority benefit and she apologized for fleeing the agents.
But they were not too pleased with her or satisfied with her apology and charged her with three felonies: one count of eluding police and two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer after she reportedly “grazed” two agents with her car.
The incident occurred on April 11 and after more than 80 days to investigate the matter, Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman finally dropped all charges against Daly.
This story is simply amazing. How much time and money was waisted on this case? After discovering that Daly didn’t have alcohol or some illegal substance in her vehicle, the agents should have used common sense to realize what they’d done. Instead they let their collective egos get the best of them and put this poor woman through an unnecessary ordeal.
And why were there seven of them? Was it a slow night in Charlottesville? I can’t even imagine how they react when they encounter someone with actual alcohol.