Opinion

Time for a better solution to fireworks | Editorial

The city of Kenmore will host a fireworks show tonight as a part of Fourth of July festivities in Northshore. - Reporter file photo
The city of Kenmore will host a fireworks show tonight as a part of Fourth of July festivities in Northshore.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

For many, the Fourth of July is about barbecues, family, parades and, of course, fireworks.

But we should never forget that the Fourth of July is also a day to celebrate our country’s independence and freedoms. That freedom is sometimes complicated. Giving one person the freedom to do something may infringe on another person’s freedom.

Fireworks are always a big point of contention. Many people love to purchase fireworks and light them off as a part of the holiday, while others fear for property and safety with personal fireworks in their neighborhood. Fireworks in any setting can be fun and dangerous at the same time.

When I was growing up, it was a tradition for my family to create our own fun with a personal fireworks display. My dad would put on the show when I was young and as I grew up, I started to do my own. It is a big part of my childhood, as it is for many people. The idea of lighting your own fireworks is connected to good feelings of togetherness with family, the exhilaration of blowing something up and the beauty of bright colorful bursts lighting up against a dark sky. Outlawing fireworks takes away that freedom to maintain a tradition and something that brings happiness.

Many cities have banned fireworks, such as Kenmore, Kirkland, Bellevue and Redmond, while others have just gradually put on restrictions, like Bothell.

Legal fireworks infringe on freedoms as well. Everyone should have the freedom to attend Fourth of July activities without worrying that their home will burn down. Some pets, dogs specifically, can freak out and make the night impossible for some people to enjoy. Those with babies have to endure the same issues with fireworks being lit off late into the night. And forget about a good night’s sleep if you need to have a window open to be comfortable on a hot July night.

For those who live in a city that bans fireworks, it can be difficult to find a place to light off their own personal fireworks. Just going to a city that allows them is not good enough. It is illegal to light off fire works on property that is not yours.

But a lot of these issues can be solved. This is not an issue that needs to go through a court or even be solved with a call to the police. If neighbors think ahead and act civilly towards each other and obey laws, many of these issues can be solved.

But our elected officials need to be a little more open minded than to just say legal or illegal when it comes to fireworks. I think city and county council members should look into hosting local fireworks sites. Having a few fireworks sites at large park and ride lots or stadium parking lots could bridge this gap in freedoms for both sides. Allow fireworks stands near but not on the premises. Station some police officers, an EMT and a fire engine at the lot. Water down any foliage or buildings within a square block of the site and allow people to light off their own legal fireworks in a safe place away from homes and businesses. This would not eliminate those who willfully break the law but it would allow them a safe and legal option to enjoy a tradition.

I will freely admit that this idea has some flaws. But instead of telling people no and putting no thought behind it, maybe our elected officials should try to think outside the box and find better solutions.

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