Americans are too wedded to their firework shows for them to be canceled this Fourth of July, but like everything in our lives, they will be adjusted. Not even a global pandemic can stop this country from celebrating its independence by detonating some kind of explosive. It is too deeply ingrained in our DNA as Americans, not to mention woven into our national anthem and even our flag. It would be impossible to imagine this holiday without pyrotechnics. 

Many large formal and traditional 4th July fireworks displays have been canceled already but the biggest and baddest of them all, Macy’s show in NYC, is going ahead. To celebrate the strength of spirit in New York City and across the country, Macy’s has reimagined the experience to minimize the creation of large crowds. Specifically, From Monday, June 29 through Saturday, July 4, random 5-minute fireworks displays will launch unannounced on certain evenings across the city. The shows will be launched from various locations in every borough and are designed to be brief and over before residents can gather at its source. The finale on Saturday July 4th will be accompanied by an epic music score. 

Most Americans’ response to canceled events will be to create their own! The next pandemic shortage may well be fireworks as sales head to new record highs this year. Says Bruce Zoldan, CEO of  Phantom Fireworks, one of the largest suppliers in the country, “Fireworks sales have been unprecedented and stronger than ever in the history of my being in this industry and I’ve been in it for 50 years.” The American Pyrotechnics Association (yes it is a real organization) also is predicting a record year in consumer fireworks sales. Julie Heckman, the association’s executive director said, “We anticipate that more families than ever before will bring the celebration home to their backyards this Independence Day and that’s because all of the public displays, by and large, have been canceled.” If you are planning on putting on your own show remember to have buckets of sand, a fire extinguisher, and some common sense on hand.

So what is hot and what is not this year? As you all know, it’s always possible to spend $10 or $10,000 and everything in between to get your fix. At the low end, we have all the favorites selling well (to quote David Spade in Joe Dirt), “You got your black cats, roman candles, screaming mimis, ladyfingers, fuzz buttles, snicker bombs, church burners, finger blasters, gut busters, zippity do das, crap flappers, whistling bungholes, spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’t’s, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick and whistling kitty chasers”. 

At the high end, it is amazing what you can get. I know $70 is not nothing but that can actually buy you a couple of minutes of really high-end entertainment. The top-selling firework of 2020 to date is the Excalibur Artillery Shells. Here is a video of the mighty Excalibur doing its thing. Some of the other high-end top sellers can be found listed here. (This would be where the healthy dose of common sense would come in.)

Of course, the 4th July holiday is one reason for the sales, but the other reason is that people are completely frustrated with being in lockdown mode for three months and are looking for an affordable way to let off a little steam. And what better way to do that than to blow stuff up! Of course, it would not be America if we didn’t have some regional differences in how we like to firework. (If it’s not a verb it should be.) On a per-capita basis, Missouri spends the most on fireworks but Mississippi overall outlays more dollars than any other state. 

About 9,000 accidents are reported each year, mostly in the 1 month period between June 22 and July 22 and injuries occur in proportion to the spend of each state (so no-one is showing more common sense than anyone else). 

Only one state — Massachusetts— bans the sale and use of all consumer fireworks, including novelties and sparklers. Two states — Illinois and Vermont — permit the sale and use of only wire or wood stick sparklers and other novelties.

Be safe out there whatever you are doing for 4th July and here are some tips and suggestions for celebrating our national holiday in safety. 

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