By Lois Henry
Oh boy. The 4th of July is almost here.
I sooo look forward to the awe-inspiring, patriotic spectacle of bands of drunken adults and unsupervised children lighting off cardboard containers full of gunpowder in the streets and wondering if the illegal bottle rockets streaking through the sky will land on my neighbor's wood shingle roof.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Anything that explodes is illegal.
Any incendiary device that leaves the ground is illegal. That includes legal fireworks that are thrown into the air, so don't do that either.
Any legal firework that is altered or tampered with is illegal. Homemade fireworks are illegal.
Some fireworks are legal in the county portion of the city, but not within city limits. Those include Piccolo Pete or other whistling-type fireworks and ground bloom type fireworks.
A temporary fireworks reporting HOTLINE @ 868-6070 has been established for Bakersfield residents to report the illegal use or storage of fireworks or explosives on July 3, 4, 5 (7p.m. -12 a.m.) 2010.
Fines for setting off illegal fireworks range from $500 to $1,500
GO TO A SHOW
Among the fireworks celebrations in Kern County:
Arvin is not having a fireworks show this year.
Bakersfield, July 4, to follow Bakersfield Blaze game at Sam Lynn Ball Park
Bakersfield Speedway, July 3, following race
Delano, 9:30 p.m. July 3, Delano Memorial Park
Lake Isabella, about 9 p.m. July 3, Engineer Point
Shafter, 9 p.m. July 3, Shafter High School football stadium
Taft, 9 p.m. July 4, Taft Union High School baseball field
Tehachapi, 9 p.m. July 4, Coy Burnett Football Field
Wasco, at dusk July 4, Barker Park/Babe Ruth Ballpark, 1280 Poplar
Not to mention choking on the clouds of smoke, magnesium, barium and copper billowing out of all that "safe and sane" garbage from China and Mexico.
Oh, and counting up how much of my tax dollars are going up in flames as firefighters race all over heck and gone dousing vacant lots and houses set ablaze by fireworks.
Yay, for Independence Day!
Yes, it's that time of year again -- when fireworks booths pop up like toadstools and I make my annual rant urging a ban on all personal fireworks.
We absolutely must ban personal fireworks. There, I said it again. Deal with it.
This year, I am more dismayed than usual following the cancellation of the 55-year fireworks show at Bakersfield College, which was the biggest show in town.
The use of personal fireworks has gotten out of control, or at least the people who use them have -- and we shouldn't allow them on our streets. (The fireworks, that is. Well, maybe some of the people too.).
But large, professionally produced shows are fine with me and, I think, a much better alternative to setting off smokey spark bombs next to the neighbor's dried-up wooden fence.
Alas, the BC show died from lack of ticket sales.
That doesn't mean people weren't interested. They were, but from a distance. Many sat outside the stadium on nearby lawns and rooftops to watch the show -- for free -- and then gathered in the streets afterward for their own up-close shows.
What does it say about this town that people will spend hundreds of dollars, if not more, on legal and illegal fireworks but can't muster $15 a ticket to support a show that benefits everyone? Sheesh.
But I digress.
I can already hear some of you revving up your arguments against my position:
* Non-profits rely on fireworks sales to support their good works.
True, but other towns and counties faced the same dilemma. They banned personal fireworks and still found a way to support non-profits. Aren't we as smart and resourceful as they are?
The city and county should ban personal fireworks in metro Bakersfield, increase enforcement the first few years and collect a boatload of fine money. Use that money to put on several free or very low-cost pyro shows around town with private businesses as co-sponsors. Non-profits could sell food, beverages and souvenirs at the shows. That's one idea; I'm sure there are plenty of better ones out there.
* Don't punish everyone because a few bad apples use illegal fireworks.
The situation is so out of control that there is just no way to keep up. If they're all illegal, that makes the money we spend on special task forces every year a whole lot more effective.
* Yeah, fireworks can be dangerous if you're not responsible. So are a lot of things. Wanna ban cars and guns too?
I agree we can't bubble wrap the world. But we don't need fireworks to sustain our lifestyles like we do cars. And fireworks aren't a constitutional right, such as gun ownership.
* It's tradition!
So is shooting bullets into the air, but we figured out that wasn't so smart either.
We spend upwards of $50,000 in overtime every year putting teams of cops and firefighters on the streets to chase after idiots who shoot burning objects into the air.
Yeah, yeah, the OT is paid for through a combination of fees assessed on fireworks booths and fines.
But those don't cover property damage, which added up to more than $850,000 last year. And they don't cover the cost of fire crews running all over the city stamping out flames.
How about the cost of a child's eye?
Or a man's life?
It's happened here before and it surely will again.
Happy boom-boom day!
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at people.bakersfield.com/home/Blog/noholdsbarred, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org