Entertainment & Life

What kind of fireworks light up your July Fourth night?

Maria Gutierez and her daughter Eva, 4, from Delhi watch fireworks at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, Calif., on Saturday, July, 4, 2015.
Maria Gutierez and her daughter Eva, 4, from Delhi watch fireworks at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, Calif., on Saturday, July, 4, 2015. Modesto Bee file

Fourth of July calls for friends, family, fun and fireworks. The question is, what kind? Do you go for the big public display or hit up your favorite booth and stay home to enjoy the (safe and sane, of course) home versions?

In some communities, the choice is made for you – local ordinances prohibit the sale or use of fireworks of any kind. And, thanks to finances and the drought, some of the bigger public displays, such as one at Don Pedro Reservoir in Stanislaus County, have been canceled in recent years.

But many folks get to pick every year. The Modesto Bee asked readers on Facebook which they prefer. Not surprisingly, people responded with strong opinions on both sides.

Jessica Voelker advocates home fireworks.

“We do legal fireworks at home, where we can host and be safe,” she said, adding that bans on fireworks aren’t effective. “If they completely ban at-home fireworks, there will be an increase in DUIs and accidents. Taking away the option to stay home will increase risk. And, let’s face it, isn’t going to stop inconsiderate neighbors scaring animals with illegal fireworks.”

Stephanie Gonzalez likes staying home.

“Technically at my sister’s house, since that’s where we go on the Fourth,” she said. “I don’t want to deal with the crowds of people, their loud behavior, possibly drinking or smoking or making my experience bad. I want to enjoy the Fourth, and nothing’s better than spending time with family, eating good food and sneaking in some games of badminton.”

Ann Pollock agreed. She’s not a fan of the big crowds at the professional shows.

“We always stay home with the family,” she said. Pollock noted that some neighbors can be inconsiderate, putting off loud fireworks into the wee hours of the morning. She has special reason to hope for some peace this holiday: “This will be our daughter’s first Fourth of July. She’ll be 5 months by then. I’m hoping she doesn’t get too scared and is able to get some sleep with all the noises going on.”

Debra Bashaw isn’t a fan of home fireworks because of another kind of baby. “As a dog owner, I absolutely hate fireworks,” she said. “Jackasses start days in advance and continue late into the night. I wish (California) would ban sales to individuals and sanction professional displays only.”

Rosa Rosette has a double celebration on Independence Day – her birthday is July 4.

“Growing up, I hated fireworks,” she said. And for good reason – on one holiday, the roof caught fire from illegal fireworks. Now, she said, “we go see a professional fireworks display. Sometimes from my brother’s lawn. … We do have some fireworks at home (my three boys do like fireworks) with all the precautions. Our pets are put inside with semi-loud music playing to drown out fireworks.”

Angel Edwards said she appreciated the display put on in Turlock, where Fourth of July fireworks and festivities recently returned to the campus of California State University, Stanislaus.

Jesse Martinez lives down the street from a public display, so he gets the best of both worlds.

And then there is Elizabeth Zang, impressive in her honesty:

“Sometimes I watch a local show in person,” she said. “Other times I watch fireworks on TV because I’m too tired or lazy to go out.”

Safety tips

If you do decide to light fireworks at home, the Modesto Police Department offers these tips:

  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when displaying fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.