By Dan Haag
It’s just before 5 am and I’m not sure what to write about for this particular column. I usually mine the rich tapestry that is my life for stories, but this past week has been pretty bland. I can’t imagine an entire column about me falling asleep in front of the television as being a real page-turner.
There’s certainly a lot going on in the world I could write about. But whenever I touch on politics or other hot-button issues, my email in-box rapidly fills up with angry messages urging me to perform impossible physical acts on myself.
So like any dedicated journalist, I’ve decided to play it safe and write about an extremely non-controversial topic that absolutely no one could possibly get the least bit angry about: fireworks.
As you’ve no doubt heard, there will be no evening fireworks display in several familiar coastal towns for the 4th of July this year, including Manzanita, Pacific City and Neskowin.
In Manzanita, it wasn’t for lack of trying: the completely volunteer fireworks committee worked extremely hard putting on fantastic shows year after year. But it’s a massive undertaking. These are folks who have businesses to run and families that enjoy seeing them every now and then. Couple that with the rapidly rising associated costs and it just wasn’t feasible.
So how do people feel about no fireworks show in Manzanita? Like most things, it’s a mixed bag: you either love it or hate it.
Personally, I do understand that while it may be the end of an era, it’s certainly not the end of the world. Still, I admit to being somewhat conflicted. Fireworks on the 4th are about as nostalgic as it gets. As a kid, there were few things cooler than getting to stay up late to watch things explode.
Apparently, a lot of today’s children feel the same way.
One extremely distressed father called me and accused Manzanita of “stealing his little boys’ childhood” by not having fireworks. I could tell he was sincere about preserving said childhood because when I suggested he donate time and money to the effort, he hung up on me. Presumably, he discovered another way to create memories for his son involving high explosives.
On the flip side, most dog owners seem grateful to not have a show. If you have a dog, then you know that they often cower, shake, or run away during fireworks displays.
My dog, however, is a bad example: she could sleep through a 50 megaton bomb detonating in the living room but will snap to attention if someone in the next county is peeling a banana.
Wherever your opinion lies, there is one looming concern for everyone involved: personal and illegal fireworks. With no scheduled Manzanita show to illicit “ooohs” and “awwws” the fear is that more and more people will be setting off their own ballistics to fill the void. One only need drive through the Columbia River Gorge to understand why that should scare the crap out of everyone.
Recent Oregon Coast summers have been as dry as a bone and introducing sparklers or cherry bombs to beach grass ranks up near the top of the “Worst Ideas Ever” list..
However you celebrate, be courteous, be cautious: maybe the folks in the campground or house next to you aren’t big fans of devices with names like “The Punisher” or “The Shockwave” detonating outside their tent or in their driveway at 2 am; maybe most folks don’t want to count “fleeing from a wildfire” among their summer memories.
And remember, ALL fireworks are prohibited on Oregon beaches and state and national parks. Fines for shooting them off can run up to $1,000.
In fact, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office, most fireworks are illegal. This includes those that explode, fly into the air and travel more than 6 feet horizontally or 12 inches vertically.
I guess my advice would be if you are on the fence about shooting off your own fireworks, maybe just give it a pass.
But fear not, there’s still plenty to do. If you feel like supporting a local cause, attend the annual Pancake Breakfast at the Old Fire Hall in Manzanita at 8 am on July 4th. Proceeds benefit Neah-Kah-Nie High School athletic programs.
And of course, Manzanita still holds a wonderful hometown parade, complete with Air National Guard flyover. It all kicks off around 1:15 pm.
Or, you could take a page from my playbook: stay at home and do something completely safe and harmless like drinking buckets of margaritas, cranking up the John Philip Sousa, and arguing with your in-laws.
In conclusion, I wish you all a joyous 4th of July and leave you with some final words of wisdom, spoken by President George Washington before he and Will Smith liberated earth from evil alien invaders: “May you wake on July 5th happy, barely singed, and with the proper amount of fingers and toes.”