It was a busy 4th of July.
I started the day at about 9 AM by moving mortars into place. Then at 10:30 I went over to Half Shell to help set up and serve beer until about 3 PM.
Check out some pictures from Half Shell.
Shannon and Matthew
Scott with the 1st Beer of Half Shell
Becky and Jenny
I switched from my “Beat Iowa” hat to a “Beer Nuts” hat for this Half Shell.*
Sarah finishing off the pepperoni pizza that she didn’t want to be “too eager” for.
I don’t know what is going on in this picture.
At 3 I headed back to the fireworks area to set up sandbags. Fireworks was a very educational experience. For starters, fireworks don’t look anything like I thought they would look like. I thought they would look like giant bottle rockets or like the big red rockets that Wile E. Coyote shoots at the Road Runner. Instead, they look like this:
The main thing I learned though was that being in the pit or ground zero of a fireworks display is about a million times more entertaining and fun than watching a fireworks display.
To let off fireworks there is a dress code. You are required to wear boots, long pants, a cotton long sleeve shirt (polyester will catch on fire), a hard hat, safety glasses and ear protection. Even with all of that clothing and protective gear it is hard to put into words how powerful and loud the fireworks are in the pit. It is an intense experience.
I was really down in the pit to take some pictures. However, I was ordered to set off a couple of fireworks. So I set off three.
After we finished some clean up I went over to Jen and Derrick’s traditional 4th of July barbecue. I was asked the same question a few different times while I was there:
“Which fireworks did you light off?”
Shannon would usually answer the question: “The good ones.”
Although I enjoy her vote of confidence, that answer has no basis in fact. The truth is that you never get to see the fireworks that you light off. In fact, you barely ever see any fireworks at all. You feel them. You hear them. You never see them.
The steps to setting off the fireworks prevent you from ever seeing them. When you go to light off the fireworks you are handed a 5 or 6 foot pole with a road flare taped to the end. You approach the mortars with the flare pointed away from the fireworks. When you get near the fireworks you remove the protective sleeve that covers the fuse. Then you take a few steps back and light the fuse with the flare. As soon as the fuse starts to light, you turn your back to the fireworks, get low and move away from the mortars.
While you are moving away from the fireworks, there is another person acting as a spotter. The spotter tells you when it is okay to go light another fuse or to get down. Trust me, you definitely know when the shell has shot into the sky. You feel it. However, there are a couple of things that could go wrong. The shell could blow up in the mortar or the shell can come a few feet out of the mortar and then blow up. If these things don’t happen, you get to go back and light off more fireworks. But you never really get to see the fireworks that you light.
Here are a few pictures from the pit:
Joe packing mortars.
Charby moving boxes of fireworks.
Shannon putting foil on the Grand Finale mortars.
The line moving away from the explosion is the flare.
Peggy setting off fireworks.
Grand finale aftermath.
Of course there are about 80 more pictures in the Snapshot Gallery in an album named “Jaycees – Independence Day – 2008”.
When I concluded my evening at Jen and Derrick’s barbecue I found out that something pretty major had happened in my absence. However, that is not my tale. All I can tell you is that congratulations are in order next time you see them.
One last story.
While I was walking around Half Shell taking pictures two girls came up to me.
“Do you want to take our picture?” they asked.
“Why would I want to take your picture?”
“Because we are so cute.”
“Are you serious?”
“I can take your picture.”
I’ll leave it to you to make your own assessments about the level of cuteness these girls possess.
I have a feeling this is how the Girls Gone Wild guy got started.
*I bought a new hat for this coming Half Shell on Saturday. I think it is perfect.