Is that the sound of thunder breaking across the early July sky? Maybe, but there’s also a good chance it’s also the sound of fireworks, which means it’s time for America to celebrate another birthday.
Fireworks have been part of America’s Independence Day celebrations since the beginning. Why you ask? Well, besides being loud and pretty, they’re also what Revolutionary War celebrity John Adams wanted. The day before he famously signed the Declaration of Independence he wrote to his wife saying that the day should be marked with “guns” and “bonfires” and “illuminations seen across the continent.”
Americans took to fireworks right away, and a year later the first 4th of July celebration was held in Philadelphia with… you guessed it… fireworks!
They were pretty sophisticated, too. While they were a lot smokier and didn’t have quite the variety of designer colors we’ve grown used to, by 1783 a merchant in Boston was able to offer “rockets, serpents, wheels, table rockets, cherry trees, fountains, and sun flowers.”
There was a good reason large cities went to so much trouble to put on a good show. Early Americans were so enthusiastic about their fireworks, that the large shows were designed to keep citizens from putting on their own private shows. Careless displays could and sometimes did result in entire towns going up in flames.
So enjoy those fireworks shows. They’re not only pretty, but patriotic as well. And if you decide to host your own Independence Day show, use proper caution.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July.