Happy July 4th!

Here’s the craziest fireworks stories I can think of…

You know those pink tube things that just spin around on the ground making cool colors? Did you know if you light it in your hand, wait for the fuse to burn almost all the way out and then throw it up into the air, it flies around in the air really good? That’s what I’ve always loved doing with them and surprisingly I’ve never set one off in my hand that way.

As a teenager I decided to tie fishing line around one of these and dangle it out my 2nd story window by a broom handle to see which way it would fly. It immediately burned away the fishing line and quickly hovered up and then over – straight into my bedroom window as I jumped out of the way. I watched in shock as this glowing ball of fire hovered in the middle of my room for a few seconds. Then it went out and fell to the floor, not burning anything. It was awesome, but I decided not to try that experiment again.

The cool fireworks were illegal in Illinois, so we had to drive across the Mississippi into Missouri for the good stuff. I think my brother and his friends actually biked over there for fireworks before they had drivers licenses. Apparently fireworks stands didn’t care that kids were buying things. I think it was when he was 16 and I was 14 that we drove over there and got a ton of bottle rockets. And for days we drove around, shooting them at people from the car. We’d just hold them in our hands, light them and aim at people, houses, cars, etc.

Probably the funnest thing was driving up to the golf course in Wood River and shooting them down at golfers. It was great seeing them down there with tiny explosions of smoke happening all around them. They just stood there, looking up at our car, helpless to do anything about it as we laughed hysterically. This was the 80’s, so nobody had cell phones to report us with.

In high school I set off a pack of 100 saturn missles in a hallway during lunch, which is detailed on this page.

Dropping lady bugs (I think that’s what those tiny firecrackers are called) into a 20oz bottle of water is fun because it makes the bottle bounce up into the air and sprays water around. And dropping those colored smoke bombs into buckets of water creates the coolest effect ever.

Once I got a drivers license, Mike Tankersley and I had a lot of fun reliving the things my brother and I used to do with fireworks. Mostly driving up and down alleys, shooting bottle rockets at houses or throwing exploding things over fences. We had a few close calls with cops, like when I’d just shot a bottle rocket out of my hand into a yard and I looked up to see a cop driving by on the cross street. Luckily he wasn’t looking our way.

In Junior High I used to boobie trap everything in class with poppies – those white balls of paper that pop when you throw them at the ground. A few times I boobie trapped doors with those firecracker-type things with the strings on either side of it that are about as loud as a firecracker, so that when doors were opened they would explode. During lunch we’d tie these to classroom doors that were in session and we could hear them explode from anywhere in the school.

I know there’s more, but I can’t think of anything right now. I’ll have to come back and revise this with more of my stupidity later. Today the kids and I are driving up to Portland for the day and we’ll watch the fireworks display there tonight. I bought some sparklers, poppies and confetti poppers to do on the riverfront. I don’t think they allow anything stronger than that there.

7/5 EDIT: Kristine commenting reminded me of my Eastgate fireworks escapades! During the construction of the additional auditoriums I started bringing bottle rockets in and shooting them off inside. They would hit the ceiling and explode. I can’t remember what the ceiling was made of it but it never burst into flames and killed all the moviegoers in the other auditoriums.

After awhile I started sticking a few dozen bottlerockets into the launcher at once and using a lighter and an aerosol can as a flamethrower to ignite them all at once. The noise was fantastic! Eventually Debbie got sick of it and posted a list of rules on the bulletin board which included no fireworks, no skateboarding behind the concession stand and no radios. She wasn’t really into confrontation. The list was hilarious.


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