Friday, May 25, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on July 1st, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 17


The scariest military battle in which I ever fought—to paraphrase Mark Twain—was a Fourth of July in Santa Maria.

Cities up and down the coast have banned fireworks of a personal sort: the kind you light a few inches away from your browning front lawn in the hopes that a car or truck won’t need to make its way past your house anytime soon. But Santa Maria has stayed firm in its Independence Day independence and continues to allow residents and visitors to buy small-scale explosives from one of almost 30 approved vendors, then to detonate those explosives on public roads.

That alone is enough to give some people pause, especially in this drought-parched patch of California we call home. Setting up devices that spit sparks and shoot out multi-colored gouts of flame doesn’t seem to be the most wise course of action in a region that’s struggling to shuffle through the worst dry spell in its recorded history.

Still, the idea is that if people stay “safe and sane,” we should make it through the holiday unscathed, with city unburnt and all 10 fingers still attached.

The problem I see, however, is that we’re talking about people. And neither “safe” nor “sane” pops into my mind when I think about humanity in general. Especially because I’ve seen what happens on the Fourth of July in certain sections of Santa Maria, and it isn’t pretty.

Earlier in the day, before the sun starts to dip below the horizon and the Piccolo Petes start their shrill cries, heralding the oncoming veil of night, homeowners begin making the precarious climb to their roofs, hose in tow, to soak everything down. Legal fireworks don’t generally leave the square foot or two in which they’re first lit, but that’s where the safety and sanity ends, because a lot of  what you’ll be seeing—the bombs bursting in air and such—aren’t exactly legal.

They’re not legal in any sense.

But this is ’Merica! Land of the free! And if some guy wants to celebrate that freedom by detonating an M80 or firing a bottle rocket over his freedom-loving neighborhood, then—hoo boy—that’s what he’s going to do. Freedom to enjoy yourself trumps freedom from worry about property damage, right?


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