Bombs Bursting in Air This Weekend? Be Careful or Leave It to the Pros

Jul 3, 2015

I could guess it's because Francis Scott Key decided that the line "bombs bursting in air" needed to be in the verses of that poem he wrote that became our National Anthem that we've been fascinated with fireworks, this country of ours, so thoroughly and collectively.

A refresher on the eve of the fourth, from biography.com: 

"British forces captured Washington, D.C., in 1814. Taken prisoner was a Dr. William Beanes, who also happened to be a colleague of Key. Due to his work as an attorney, Key was asked to help in the negotiation of Beanes' release and in the process traveled to Baltimore, where British naval forces were located along Chesapeake Bay. He, along with Colonel John Skinner, was able to secure Beanes' freedom, though they were not allowed to return to land until the British completed their bombardment of Fort McHenry.

"On Sept. 13, the three at sea watched what would become a day-long assault. After continual bombing, to Key's surprise, the British weren't able to destroy the fort, and Key noted upon the dawning of the next morning a large U.S. flag being flown.

"The British ceased their attack and left the area. Key immediately wrote down the words for a poem that he would continue composing at an inn the next day. The work, which relied heavily on visualizations of what he witnessed, would come to be known as the 'Defence of Fort M'Henry' and was printed in handbills and newspapers, including the Baltimore Patriot. The poem was later set to the tune of a drinking song by John Stafford Smith, 'To Anacreon in Heaven,' and came to be called 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' " 

Down I81 and off at Gibson, Pa., you can find all sorts of fireworks.
Fireworks these days, of course, come in many sizes and shapes. In our state, they're illegal, except for sparklers and limited small ground fireworks allowed this year for the first time during a limited period in several counties that chose to opt in, including Madison and Oswego. You can, however, drive across the border to Pennsylvania and find huge stores that sell firecrackers and cherry bombs and bottle rockets and ... well, all sorts of stuff that go soaring off into the night and go boom, a la the British back in Key's day, or simply go where you toss them and then do their thing.

That's the part that has people worried.

Injuries abound when people take fireworks into their own hands, spirit of the forefathers be damned.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report after studying hospital statistics from 2014.

The conclusion: Fireworks were involved in 11 deaths and 10,500 injuries.

But I come here today not to point fingers -- I still have all 10 of mine, not being a firecracker thrower. I merely wish to advise you to be careful if you decide to put on a display of your own, or bring your family somewhere close to a homemade fireworks display. Accidents happen.

There are, however, many bombs-bursting-in-air fireworks displays throughout this July Fourth weekend where you leave the pyrotechnics in the hand of the professionals and take on the role of the ooooohs- and ahhhhhhs-provider.  •The Syracuse Chiefs will beef up their usual Friday night display following their 7:05 p.m. Saturday game against the Pawtucket Red Sox. The display is in conjunction with the city of Syracuse, the the New York State Fair has been giving out 2,000 free tickets. I went to the Fourth fireworks display at NBT Bank Stadium last year, and it was spectacular.

Over center field at NBT Bank Stadium, an impressive display.
•Today's displays include events in Paper Mill Island in Baldwinsville, Emerson Park in Auburn, the Route 11/81 bridges in Brewerton, Dwyer Memorial Park in Cortland, and downtown Clayton.

•Saturday's displays also include the village park in Manlius, Oswego Speedway, Lakeside Park in Cazenovia, Clinton Central School in Clinton, Fair Haven Bay, Oswego County Fairgrounds, Fulton Speedway, CMAC in Canandaigua, Old Forge Pond and Sackets Harbor Historic Battlefield Site.

•Sunday's displays include the shore in Sylvan Beach and over Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay.

Wherever you may roam, enjoy the holiday weekend.