Writer’s Block: Boom, crash, wow!

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Growing up, every major holiday was always quite the affair in my family. The Fourth of July was no exception.

Traditionally, everyone would gather at my grandparents’ house in Edinburg. My mom’s parents had nine kids, so by the time you got most of them, their spouses and us grandkids all together the house would practically be bursting at the seams. There were some exceptions: some holidays were hosted by my parents, others at an aunt’s house. As people grew up, one of my cousins started taking on more of the hosting duties, as well.

Regardless of where we gathered, it was always home. The smell of wood smoke and the sound of laughter would inevitably fill the air as some three dozen or so family members would flit in and out during the daylong celebrations.

The Fourth of July was always one of my favorites because it meant a trip to the edge of town to buy as many fireworks as we could clip coupons for. I guess if I think about it, newspapers have been a part of my life since I was a child. Still, with one fistful of tiny newsprint squares and another fistful of wadded and crumpled dollar bills, a kid could suddenly find themselves with a lot of purchasing firepower.

Mom always made sure we didn’t go too far overboard. She also made sure the fireworks we purchased were about as kid-friendly as you can get. My perennial favorites were sparklers, colored smoke bombs, spinning flowers, and the army tanks and egg laying hens. My brother and sister were fans of Roman candles and bottle rockets. Big bro also favored whistling chasers and black cats. It was the chasers that would cause some unexpected excitement one particular Fourth.

The three of us kids were at our house after the traditional family gathering, popping cuetes from the driveway behind the house. My brother lit a chaser which promptly lived up to its name and began chasing my sister. It wasn’t intentional, but that firework sure did seem to have a mind of its own.

My sister, of course, screamed and ran away but the chaser kept chasing. Eventually, it caught up to her and whizzed right by her legs, burning a hole straight through the dress she was wearing. Thankfully, she was ok.

Fireworks are fun, but they can be dangerous. Sometimes we forget that those beautiful flashes of color burn at a couple thousand degrees Fahrenheit. So, it’s important to enjoy them as safely as possible.

Parents, don’t let young children light fireworks, and keep an eye on them even with the “kiddie” fireworks like sparklers and morning glories. Always keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy in case something accidentally catches fire. Never hold a firework by hand that is not intended to be held, such as bottle rockets or Roman candles. Never point a firework in the direction of other people. Always maintain a safe distance between where the fireworks are lit and where your family stands to enjoy them. Keep your pets, especially your dogs, indoors because the loud noises can frighten and disorient them. Also, if any of your neighbors are combat veterans, please keep in mind that the loud booms and flashes of your fireworks may also be disturbing to them.

This Saturday is America’s 239th birthday. Let’s all enjoy it safely, and as always, be sure to visit us online at www.portisabelsouthpadre.com.

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