July 1 – 7, 2022Vol. 24, No. 4

A Fascination With Fireworks

by Esther J. Perne

When night settles in, when the crowds settle down and when the sky lights up with bursts and trails and spirals and showers of color something special is in the air…literally. Children are entranced, dogs cower, adults are as nonpartisan as adults can be.

Almost everyone (except the dogs) votes yes for a celebration with fireworks whether it’s for a sports team win, a summer fest, a community milestone, the arrival of a new season, a wedding or, especially, the birth of a nation.

Fireworks were the celebration of choice in 1776 when the United States declared its independence on July 4 and they have been a patriotic tradition ever since. They already were a popular way to celebrate patriotism in other countries.

Briefly, fireworks may have been discovered by the Chinese 2,000 years ago, where written records describe how to make gunpowder into a firecracker. The idea for shooting gunpowder as a weapon is attributed to the Greeks and Romans. Gunpowder made its way to the West in the 13th century and so did fireworks which became a form of entertainment and although they have continued as entertainment all over the world they are also used for providing light, warning about dangers and signaling for help via torpedoes, flares and rockets and many similar devices.

In Maine, fireworks are legal, with some exceptions, but they are also controlled by municipal ordinances under which times and restrictions may vary. Belgrade, for example, where a spectacular public fireworks display will be sponsored by the Belgrade Lakes Region Business Group on July 4, advises individual consumers to observe the following rules and requests:

Municipalities aside, Maine’s many lake communities are also affected by fireworks and although they cannot pass ordinances they can issue lake-friendly fireworks user guidelines like the list from the Summer 2021 newsletter of the North Pond Association:

While fireworks seem to go hand and hand with the 4th of July, there are a number of Best Management Practices that you can follow to help keep our lake free from debris and prevent harmful chemicals that are contained in fireworks from affecting water and aquatic life.

  1. Be respectful of your neighbors and their pets and consider the timing and frequency of fireworks displays.
  2. Become knowledgeable of surrounding drinking water supplies.
  3. Devise a plan that minimizes potential runoff from launch areas, and don’t launch from bare soil or sand.
  4. Launch fireworks at a steep angle that promotes maximum height allowing the complete ignition and combustion. Fireworks launched at a low trajectory may result in premature submersion in the water and incomplete burning of potentially hazardous compounds.
  5. Rake the launch area and clean up all debris immediately following a fireworks display. Retrieve any visible non-combusted materials from the water.
  6. Collect and dispose of all “duds” in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

For more information, read the “Fireworks and New Hampshire’s Waterbodies” Fact Sheet from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

When night settles in, when the crowds settle down and when the sky lights up with bursts and trails and spirals and showers of color something special is in the air.

Here’s to enjoying the fireworks celebrations in central Maine….and please leave the dogs at home.

©2022 by Summertime in the Belgrades. All rights reserved.