You’ve never experienced Southern fireworks until you can actually taste it.
– Glynda, after a particularly close discharge
For the past several years, our Fourth of July Celebration has included dead cow muscle tossed on a grill at our house, then explosives at Glynda’s house when it gets dark. This year followed that similar pattern, with the addition of a few newbies who weren’t familiar with the availability of explosives to the South Carolina pyrotechnic market.
Laura and I got the house ready for visitors, then headed to our usual spot to buy fireworks. Every year Joey & Jan’s Fireworks has a huge warehouse full of product. Every year, there’s a big sign out front proclaiming "Business closing – all must be sold." Every year they are right back in the same place. Sometimes I can really appreciate consistency.
I like Joey & Jan’s because the owners create professional displays. What they have available tends to reflect that dedication to the craft, and seems to be of higher quality with better prices than some of the roadside stands that pop up this time of year.
The names of various fireworks have taken on more and more militaristic names. There were lots of army references, etc. I guess it stands to reason, since there is a war on right now. There also seems to be a trend to make the fireworks as large as possible and still remain legal. We saw huge collections, the largest being the "Band of Brothers" collection at $350, with an advertised 486 explosive shells. I don’t know how you could even set off that much stuff in one evening. Laura steered us toward the smaller, more peacefully named fireworks, such as Bumblebees and Singing Fountains.
All in all, we busted our $50 limit. We got two sets of mortars with twelve shells each, two packages of fountains, firecrackers, Roman candles, and a couple of grand finale sets – one large and one small. When you consider that we are providing entertainment for 15+ people for multiple hours, the price doesn’t seem so bad.
We had the burgers at our house, then congregated over at Glynda’s. The party initially included my brother Steve and his wife Cynthia, Chip and Anna, Glynda, Laura and myself. We had also invited some of our new Furman faculty members to join us who weren’t familiar with South Carolina fireworks traditions. Brian, Greg, Caren, and Paul came on over to blow up stuff.
Brian, in particular, was fun to watch. He had never lit a fuse in his life, so this was really new to him. He marvelled at how the pleasure of pyromania had escaped him for all these years. The display in the park across the street was about as good as any professional display, and we returned fire with our ordnance. The finale showered us all with fallout from the exploding shells, and we were left the taste and smell of cordite as a lingering reminder of the evening. It was good.