July 3, 2012 — The Fourth of July and fireworks have become an American tradition.
Most people schedule a fireworks display in the evening; if not a formal event, an informal time with a package of consumer fireworks.
As a child, most July 4th holidays were celebrated at home with “safe and sane” fireworks purchased from one of the stands organizations run to raise funds.However, as an adult I have sought the aerial experience many times.
One of the most memorable was the year my husband, Terry, and I got stuck on the roof of a parking garage in Old Sacramento, waiting for the traffic to clear following a fireworks display.
We had the perfect location for watching the fireworks that were shot over the Sacramento River.
We backed our truck into a parking slot and settled into camp chairs we had placed in the bed.
However, when the show was finished and people began to leave, all you could see for miles and miles on the streets below were yellow headlight beams piercing the darkness as cars slowly progressed toward the freeway.
There was a line of cars waiting to pull out of the parking garage so we just waited, and waited and waited.
Another memorable fireworks display was the Fourth of July I accompanied my mom to the top of a hill near Latrobe where my parents live, which is just a few miles past the Sacramento County line in the foothills of El Dorado County.
We were able to see aerial fireworks exploding in the night sky throughout the valley below.
Of course, fireworks have become a part of many celebrations. The California State Fair ends each day with a spectacular fireworks display.
When I was growing up, my family would devote one day to the fair and it would end in the grandstand watching fireworks.
The ancient Chinese used fireworks in religious ceremonies, weddings and victory parties. In ancient times it was noise that was desired, unlike today when spectators marvel at the brilliant colors in sparkling explosions.
During the celebration of a new year in China, firecrackers were exploded to scare away evil spirits.
In fact, it is reported a Chinese monk named Li Tian created the first firecrackers by filling bamboo shoots with gunpowder.
While the Chinese are often given credit for inventing fireworks, they may have been invented in India or Arabia.
No matter who gets the credit, most would agree they are an innovative invention.
When I looked on the Internet for information on fireworks, I found much of the details are under the heading of chemistry. The colors produced during the explosion are chemistry formulas.
For example, the red bursts seen on the Fourth of July are made from strontium salts, lithium salts and lithium carbonate — Li2CO3.
Pure colors are produced from pure ingredients and usually the fireworks with the best chemicals are the most expensive.
Fireworks displays usually cost between $3,000 and $20,000 but can be more costly depending on the quality of the product and the amount of time allotted for a show.
Apparently fireworks became an art form during the Renaissance period and royalty could flaunt their wealth by producing elaborate fireworks displays.
Fireworks are the perfect way to celebrate momentous occasions, therefore it is fitting they are used on the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate our birth as a nation in 1776, Independence Day.
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