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FireworksWhat’s the first word that pops into your head when you think about the 4th of July? We know that you probably think about family get-togethers, barbecues and games, but before that – you think about fireworks, of course!

Our tradition actually goes back all the way to our very first Independence Day. On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, explaining that the signing of the Declaration should be a “great anniversary festival” and “solemnized 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, Congress ordained the tradition in Philadelphia. The show was made up of celebratory firing of muskets, artillery and other explosives as a carryover from the colonial days, as well as 13 fireworks to symbolize the 13 states. Similar celebrations quickly spread to Boston, New York and various other cities.

By the year 1783, merchants in Philadelphia bean selling fireworks to the general public, including small children. The streets became a dangerous place around Independence Day.

According to James Heintze, author of “Fourth of July Encyclopedia” and retired librarian emeritus of American University, children would throw lit fireworks on the tables of fireworks that merchants were trying to sell. Disastrous fires devastated American cities in the 19th Century due to excessive fireworks usage. Pioneers also brought back the western practice of using dynamite to light up the night sky.

The first attempts to regulate citizen fireworks focused primarily on the noise. In 1903, the American Medical Association began to track firework-related casualties, so it wasn’t until that time when government officials began to crack down on street fireworks.

By the 1930’s, stricter legislations began to check fireworks sales at both the state and local level, which is still how pyrotechnic sales are regulated today.

This story reminds us that although the 4th of July can be a fun time of the year, it can also be very dangerous. Follow these tips to keep everyone safe:

  • Opt for going to the public fireworks display rather than having a show at home.
  • If you decide to buy fireworks, make sure they are legal in your municipality.
  • Wear protective eyewear if shooting off fireworks.
  • Always point fireworks away from people.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them away.

The Lions Pride Office will be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. We wish you all a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Happy 4th of July!