Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Explosions near resort entertain 13

No injuries reported

(LITCHFIELD BEACH, S.C.) -- A series of explosions shortly after dark on Sunday left thirteen family members entertained, although two fell asleep during the incident. Shadowy figures seen moving about the area were not investigated and apparently no crimes were committed.

Following the News & Observer's article about fireworks safety -- and the legend on their graphic that only "safe and sane" fireworks were legal in North Carolina -- our family's annual visit to the Palmetto State resulted in the purchase and ignition of about $33 of apparently unsafe and insane projectiles. South Carolina still has the admirable rule that if you can buy it, you can shoot it off, which has made it the envy of small boys and scofflaws from all the surrounding states. And I had a bag full of just about everything off-limits in Tarhelia.

Spending $33 is pretty small potatoes, to be sure, but we were never a do-you-itself family when it came to fireworks (whether stemming from homes inside the city limits or a certain economy on the part of my parents, I don't know). Still, this was the first time we've done it "at home"; since my work schedule precluded staying up for the professionals on Monday, we decided to have our celebration a day early. There weren't any duds in the bag, either.

So where's the insanity? Near as I can tell, all the consumer fireworks have warnings actually written by English-speaking people (not true of every Chinese import), basically saying "Don't hang on to this when the fuse is lit" and "Explosions throw things and hurt people". Anything else we need to worry about?

Oddly enough, the one thing missing is the only thing which I have ever found to put my family in real and imminent danger -- not amateur pyros, but amateurs full of alcohol. The next group up the beach managed to tip over their mortar -- I am certain they were not shooting the two-inch, two-for-$12 variety I picked up, either -- and lay a nice trail of smoke up the dunes and under their deck. I didn't actually witness the moment of mayhem but I'd say they sure got their money's worth from that munition.

To be fair, their chrysanthemum shell which went off about twelve feet in the air (producing something which looked like a twenty-foot dandelion head sitting on the beach) may have been a fluke.

Maybe instead of restricting the sale of the fireworks, our own state could just make it a class two misdemeanor to shoot them off while pickled, or to utilize aerial displays as wannabe weapons of mass destruction. In other words, let's penalize the operator who behaves irresponsibly, not shut down the whole world over the possibility.

And next time buy more of the rockets with nose cones -- they were almost as good as the mortar.

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