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Fireworks Frenzy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Flewwellin   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:01

Loud and beautiful fireworks are a great form of entertainment.   However, fireworks among lovers can also be loud and beautiful.   Even though I've experienced both, thankfully, I will try to leave lovers out of this article.

As a young boy in New York, I was awed by the fireworks over the Hudson River and on New Years Eve after the big ball was dropped in Times Square.   Navy Day was my favorite, with several ships anchored on the river, and a large formation of planes flying over NYC.   The crowd had to look straight up to see them, as the skyscrapers on each side of the street blocked most of the view.   However, the most impressive sight to me was the 21-gun salute given to President Harry S. Truman by each ship, as he passed them on his destroyer.   Talk about loud fireworks!

After moving to Florida, it was fireworks over the St. John's River with three bridges underneath and colorful flashes glistening on the water.   But the fireworks that have been the most unforgettable in my life were fired from the end of the long pier in Jacksonville Beach, FL with the Atlantic Ocean as the background.   Every year it would have a great finish, with a parachute holding Old Glory below it - with sparklers lighting it all up as it slowly came down like a leaf without a breeze.   Spectacular!

The Gator Bowl, Jax, FL:  I attended football games and concerts here, including fireworks during many of them.   At one Gator Bowl game, several of my teenage friends and I were standing beside a 15' chain link fence near the end zone.  We didn't have a ticket, but decided that we would quickly climb the fence, and once we landed on the other side - scatter into the crowd to watch the game.   I was one of the lucky ones who didn't get caught.   Years later, I took my eldest son there to watch the Florida Gator's quarterback Steve Spurrier beat the Florida State Seminoles in the last few seconds of the game.

Walt DisneyWorld, Orlando, Florida:  Everyone should experience the magic of DisneyWorld, and especially their large nighttime fireworks' display.   I took my four kids ("F-Troop") to The Magic Kingdom during the first week they were opened.   It happened to be my birthday on October 1, 1971.   ONLY 20,000 visitors were there daily, and a one-day ticket was only $3.75 a day (now about $79, but many variations and discounts).   I actually lived in Orlando for five years, and visited WDW a dozen times.   I was truly blessed!   My friends and I who were members of the Mid-Florida Council of the Blind were requested to help WDW set up their park for blind and visually impaired visitors.   It was an amazing and enjoyable experience for all of us.

Sea World, Orlando, FL:  Across the Interstate from WDW was Sea World, and "F-Troop" and I were there opening day.   It was a cold bone-chilling morning, and the Brink's armored car was almost an hour late bringing the cash to open the new park.  However, they gave everybody a free ticket to use for our second visit, which we used a few months later.   They had a special scary lift that went high into the sky, and you could see for miles around.   Watching the fireworks show at this height, with the water background was another special time.

Church Street Station, Orlando, FL:  This was located only a few blocks from my office, where I could also look out of my large window and see the rockets blasting off at Cape Canaveral - only forty miles away.   The restaurants at the Church Street Station had balconies where you could not only watch the shows inside, but the fireworks outside.   They also had a hot-air balloon where you could ride up high to see them too.

Cape Canaveral, FL:  For several years, we drove to the Cape to see the Apollo rockets blast off.   This was like a very special fireworks display (of sorts), as you not only could see the fire from the rockets, but you heard their deep-loud rumble, plus the ground shaking beneath your feet.   We had a telescope on the top of the car, binoculars, a camera, and we made a recording from the car radio.   Of course, we got into position early, and made it a picnic day with coffee, pop, snacks, and two-dozen turkey sandwiches.

The Daytona 500, Daytona, FL:  My family has been stock car fans ever since my Dad drove me to watch them race on the beach itself.   As a boy, I  recall the spectacular "rooster tails" that were kicked high into the air, as they made the U-turn from the soft-sand of the beach onto paved highway A1A.   A few years later (1959), we saw the opening race of the Daytona 500 at the new giant two and a half mile racetrack.   We saw the first twelve races, all from the infield, where we all ate those famous turkey sandwiches all day long.   Our favorite drivers were Lee and Richard Petty and "Fireball" Roberts. 

St. Augustine, FL:  "The Oldest City in the USA"  featured fireworks over the Bridge of Lions, as everybody brought folding chairs to the large grassy area next to Fort Castillo de San Marcos.

Key West, FL:  "F-Troop" were all christened in the Old Stone Church here, where their great-grandfather served as a deacon, with his name engraved in the colored glass above the front door.   Both their ggfather & grandfather sailed a supply boat from Homestead to Key West.   At the southernmost end of highway US 1 (from Fort Kent, Maine), the fireworks rose above the Turtle Krawls filled with loggerhead turtles.   Known as The Conch Republic, we bought a large conch shell with the end cut off, and used to blow it to call "F-Troop" home for supper.

Sanibel Island, FL:  Just off of Ft. Myers is this best shelling area in the western hemisphere, with seashells over a foot deep on the beach.   This was one of the smallest 4th of July fireworks we had ever seen.   We rode bicycles though the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, but got drenched with a heavy downpour halfway through it.   I recall how wary I was while driving my new car onto the tiny rickety 4-car ferry, and wondering about the choppy water ahead of us.

West Palm Beach, FL:  Fireworks from a small island in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway, where my family used to picnic.   It was unique, as we could also see the beached freighter Amaryllis, which they finally had to cut up for scrap.  "F-Troop" sure loved to play right next to the hull in shallow water.

Aberdeen, South Dakota:  We had one of the most fantastic combination family parks I've ever seen for a small city - including StorybookLand.   A small lake for boating (canoes & paddle boats), a jogging track around the whole lake, picnic areas,  RV and camping sites, baseball/softball/basketball fields, a zoo, miniature golf course, a restored merry-go-round, plus a small food and beverage hut.   Fireworks here was very comfortable, as many would simply watch it from their vehicles.

Our Aberdeen Pheasants baseball team won their first year in the league.   One of the customers in our cafeteria was a beautiful small gal with a beautiful voice.   She sang on stage in Nashville, was featured on top of our annual Singing Christmas Tree, plus at the opening of these baseball games.   Her voice seemed to make the fireworks display kind of tingly.

Watertown, SD:  Our family cabin on Lake Kampeska here had a T-dock where we would sit at the end on folding chairs and watch the fireworks, plus a boat parade that sailed around the whole lake in the evening.   I even had a musical bull horn, that was used to yell at many of our friends on these boats as they passed.

The Black Hills, SD:  Everyone gets a special feeling while watching the fireworks over Mount Rushmore, especially with the special lighting shining on it.

A few miles down the road, we have fireworks over the partially sculptured Chief Crazy Horse mounted on his stallion, which honors the Indian tribes.

St. Louis, MO:  Very scenic with fireworks mixed with The Arch and the Mississippi River.   We crunched three blind adults, two sighted, and one large guide dog into one of those tiny capsules that travel up the Arch.   A fantastic view at the top while standing on a curved floor.

Chicago, IL:  Fireworks over Lake Michigan, and the beautiful colorful fountain in Grant Park.   This is the fountain shown in the opening scenes of the hit TV show Married With Children.

Atlanta, GA:  Nearby Stone Mountain features the large sculptures of Confederates Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, and Jefferson Davis; another great background for fireworks.   Add their nightly laser show, & the old train complete with an Indian attack for a fun evening.

Philadelphia, PA:  Another special 4th of July fireworks display watched from the bow of an old sailing ship with a restaurant below decks, featuring large glass windows looking out over the harbor.

Little Rock, AR:  We watched the fireworks through the large glass windows of our hotel room, as they launched them from the nearby bridge over the Arkansas River - just below us.   This was the same hotel where Bill Clinton met the beautiful sexy Paula Jones.   I too had a former girlfriend there with the last name of Jones.   This is where I ate a 24 ounce prime rib steak & didn't eat the next day.

Louisville, KY:  Home of the Louisville Slugger and the Churchill Downs Racetrack - where they serve dinner while you watch the horse races.   My favorite hotel was short walk to the Belle of Louisville stern wheeler dinner cruise with a revolving restaurant on top overlooking the Ohio River.   A perfect view of the fireworks!

Las Vega$, NV:  Fireworks amid all of those bright flashing lights and glitter of the hotels and casinos is a real treat here.

Richmond, VA:  We spotted one of the new Krispy Kreme donut shops as we neared our convention hotel, so we treated several of our friends the next morning.   Big mistake!   They made us get them every morning for the whole week we were there. They were more popular than the fireworks, and they even ate them during the fireworks.   OK  OK, I admit that I love them too!

Grand Rapids, MI:  Fireworks over the rapids, watched from out city block sized hotel with five restaurants inside.   One allowed you to toss your peanut shells onto the floor, and another featured the best tasting hamburger in the nation.   Several conventioneers bought extra burgers to take on board their leaving flights.   We did too!

Denver, CO:  These fireworks featured mountains in the background.

Micaville, NC (near Ashville):  Fireworks of a different kind, after I used a heavy jack-hammer to drill holes into the face of the mica mine where I worked.   I'd insert the dynamite, setup the connection to the plunger outside the mine, yell  "Fire In The Hole,"  then ram the handle down.   Boom...Boom......Boom as the blasts go off in timed increments - the shallow holes first, then the deeper holes in order.   The ground shakes, a cloud of smoke rises, and you try to dodge it.   That dust will really give you a strong headache!   I found this type of fireworks exciting too.   My buddy always razzed me during supper in the local restaurant.   I dated the waitress, and she always gave my larger portions.   Heck...I needed the extra energy!

Grand Isle, LA:  Fireworks on Grand Isle is another spectacular, as you are closer to the actual whomp of the firing nearby, to the final display and boomers.   Several of the wealthy camp owners spend thousands of dollars for their personal fireworks for their visitors and others.   Next door, about thirty feet from our "Poopdeck," they would set them off for hours - frequently from 8:00pm to midnight.   Most of them would explode over the Gulf of Mexico.   It was also fun watching out neighbors running around below us setting them off. We could also see several other similar fireworks all over the small six mile long island.   One year, one of our teenage visitors accidentally set fire to the weeds on the levee with his personal fireworks.   Our local fire department showed up  with flashing lights and sirens wailing, which only added to the overall excitement.

The kid was royally chewed out, but I have his little episode written up in the camp memories.   I'm just waiting for his mother to read it and chew me out too.

But the fireworks that was the most memorable came as a complete surprise, as we had to fly home from a convention early one time - due to an emergency at home.   As our jet became airborne, we suddenly remembered that it was the 4th of July - as we saw fireworks outside of our window. And for the next few hours, we were treated to numerous fireworks below us, as we flew over large cities and small towns shooting them off.   We could see several fireworks displays at one time, and you could hear the ohhh's and ahhh's from the other passengers. It was truly an amazing show!

Yep.....I have been blessed with fireworks displays!

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eloiselatoof@aol.com - 01-27-2010 03:36

what wonderful and exciting memories--and so well told.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:13