This year was no exception.
It almost was. Lut wasn't feeling well this afternoon, and we didn't end up leaving the apartment until around 7PM. We bought fireworks at the usual strip o' fireworks stands. This year, we only visited two stands. One was a stand that starts their prices pretty high, then marks them down by 50% or more. The end prices are pretty reasonable. We got a set of 18 double-round mortar shells, a couple of ground fountains, a couple of tiny rockets, and three 3' long tubes with mysterious markings. The tubes were one of the first things we looked at. They came in a set and Lut examined them curiously. I said, "If you want them, get them." Lut put them back, and I moved on. A moment later, he was looking at them again. "Get them," I said. They were big and $6. How much risk could it be?
Lut wasn't impressed by the selection there, so we moved on to Crazy Harry's, which has a bigger selection and, at least as important, air conditioning. At Crazy Harry's, we got a "Mini-Howitzer", which was a tiny mortar with ten tiny shells for $5. Adorable, really. We bought some smoke bombs and crackling bombs, and a mysteriously marked ammo box. Lut was originally going to get one of the giant 7-round tubes to set off. Then he saw the ammo boxes. Genuine military-surplus ammo boxes. He looked at the ammo boxes. He looked at the tube in his hand. He put the tube back and grabbed the ammo box. He didn't know what was in it -- presumably, fireworks -- but ... it was an ammo box. I understood completely.
It was almost dark when we finally arrived at the party. We set off most of the smoke and crackling bombs, ate some food, blew up stuff, and watched stuff get blown up.
One of my fountains was a dud. The other was pretty impressive. It lasted several minutes. At least three other people set off smaller fountains, one after another, after mine, and theirs all finished sooner.
The mini howitzer proved to be a good value for the money. It was almost as good a regular single-round mortar. Quite an impressive display for the money.
Lut and I set off the full-size double-shot mortars together, using the a launch tube we had left over from last year, as well as the one that came with the shells. We coordinated several displays with other people setting of mortars. Nice effect. I kept thinking, It's just like the Fourth of July.
Brother John, one of the other regular guests, brought several black powder ... er ... charges. He had a one-foot fuse on them. They blew up with a bang, a mushroom cloud, a lot of flame, and set fire to the grass for some yards around them afterwards. After one of them, someone from the peanut gallery yelled, "call the fire department!" (not seriously.
Brother John: "I am the fire department! Who do you think started this fire?"
Lut: "Call the water department, then."
The long and mysterious tubes were a good buy, too. They were hand-held fountains. No, really, the instructions on them read: "Light. Hold in your hand." They showered forth colored sparks in varying patterns. Very pretty. Lut lit off one of them to see what would happen. Afterwards, he suggested that he and I light them simultaneously and, at a safe distance apart, mock "fence" with them. I "won" the fencing: my fountain lasted quite a bit longer than his, for no apparent reason. What really surprised me afterwards was that the spectators could tell that we were "dueling", and commented on it appreciatively.
We set the ammo box off last. It was very pretty. Lots of aerial bursts and showering sparks. Another good buy.
Afterwards, we watched the remainder of the fireworks get set off, then packed up. I talked briefly to the others there -- Brother John, and another John that I only see at parties and conventions, Jewel and her husband, Sharlene and her husband (a third John -- John is sort of a safe bet for the name of a man in this crowd, if you can't remember for sure. Mike is a good second choice). Then we called it a night.
Now I am going to wash up, because I stink of insect repellent and sweat. (Yeugh.)
Happy birthday, America!