After watching the Wednesday night fireworks display in downtown Marquette, I drove back to my apartment in Marquette Township ready to catch a full night's sleep, but I wasn't expecting to.
In the nights leading up to the fourth, I was finding it difficult to drift off to dreamland peacefully. Usually, the only noise I hear at night is the soft chirping of crickets from my bedroom window. Sometimes a car will drive by or I'll hear a siren off in the distance, but for the past week, as soon as darkness begins to descend, my ears are greeted with the booms and bangs of people lighting off fireworks in their yards.
Now, before you get all excited about my lack of enthusiasm for backyard fireworks displays, I want to make it clear that I'm not wholly against fireworks. I enjoy a good fourth of July show just as much as the next guy, but I don't understand how anyone can derive enjoyment from lighting off two or three loud fireworks from a driveway at midnight. It takes about 20 seconds between the lighting of the firework and the subsequent explosion, and then what? You're left standing in your driveway, holding a lighter and staring up at the now-darkened sky.
Wouldn't it be better to save that money you spent on those 20 seconds for a better -perhaps longer-lasting - source of fun? Go out to lunch with some friends. Have a beer in a local brewery. Head to the grocery store for some coals and burgers and have a cook out on the beach. Go bowling. Do something else with your time, please.
I need my sleep.
Besides, any fireworks display put on by pretty much every village, town and city across the country will be significantly better than what can be set off in your backyard, unless you have about $30,000 lying around.
And if you love fireworks that much, take that $100 you just spent on Roman candles and bottle rockets and donate it to your local fireworks committee. You'll make their display better and you can boast that you helped put on the show. Pick out the best fireworks that are lit off on the fourth of July. Tell your friends you bought those.
Better yet, since you're probably shooting those fireworks off in your backyard to show your unbridled patriotism, find a better way to serve your country. Volunteer in your local community - helping out a fellow American is always a good way to show thanks for the good fortune your country has been able to offer you. Make sure you vote in any election you are eligible to participate in - I can think of few things more patriotic than utilizing one of the basic principles this country was founded on. You could even take that same $100 you were going to spend on 20 seconds of fun and make a care package for a soldier overseas.
Seriously, there are at least one thousand different things you could do to show your patriotism that are better than sending every dog in your neighborhood for the comfort and safety of that tiny space between the wall and the couch, not to mention keeping your neighbors up and annoying the local police as they respond to loud noise complaints all night long.
Thankfully, the storm of Wednesday night kept the local fireworks enthusiasts from setting anything off near my home that night. But since it's not going to storm every night, I implore you, fireworks people, put the Roman candle and the lighter down. Back away slowly. Find a better, more productive, way to show your patriotism.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Marquette resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.