Fireworks: Americana

By Gus Bode

It was the Fourth of July at the Lindsay’s house. I was studying for my Spanish exam, my younger brother was studying for his math exam and everyone else was cleaning the house. I had been reminding my international friends at work about going to see the fireworks. The fireworks in my area had already happened on Saturday, so, I was not disappointed by the rain on the Fourth. But, my friends were.

For us, the Fourth of July fireworks is a tradition that we have celebrated since we were kids. Our family has a yearly tradition, that we broke this year, of going to see the Marion fireworks. We sit out in front of the bank and snack on popcorn and candy that Mom brought. The grandparents sit in the lawn chairs while the kids pile on the blanket on the ground. We always get there a little early to get a good spot. And we always stay late, because we couldn’t get out if we wanted to, with all of the traffic. This also puts us at a great advantage for seeing the last of the fireworks, the ones that didn’t ignite and go off with the rest. Getting there early and staying late also lets us see our friends from Marion. It may be the only time in a year to see that long-lost friend from high school, or the person that you used to hang out with all the time, or the church member who switched churches long ago. Those people that you don’t see any other time a year, you see at the Fourth of July fireworks.

The Fourth is also a time for family get-togethers. My family got together on the Fourth to have barbeque and chat. As I was driving off to my grandparent’s house, I couldn’t help but notice the number of people outside around the grill, cooking up hamburgers for their families.


No matter where you are across America, fireworks displays take place. Sure, the displays are different from town to city. In St. Louis, Chicago or New York, the displays are bound to be spectacular. I have never been to one of those, but the glimpses that you get on the TV are enough to awe any viewer. In contrast, the displays in the small towns of southern Illinois are, well, small. The displays still take about 30 minutes wherever you go around southern Illinois, just the spacing is different. For example, in our subdivision the first year we had fireworks, there were several minutes between fireworks. Because the budget was small, they had to be spaced out. You could have taken a good nap between each firework. Each year the display gets better. This year, I counted five large spurts of fireworks. It was quite irritating, because you clapped and started up the engine each time, thinking it was the end, but they had enough money to spend on five big collections of fireworks.

This American tradition is one that we all take for granted. However, some of my friends who are international students were introduced to American fireworks for the first time this year. I am excited every time I think about all the traditions that we have that the international students are exposed to and get to share in. I also am enjoying sharing some of their traditions, as well.