Leftridge: The Best Fireworks, Ranked

4thleadAh, the 4th of July. Delicately nestled within the sweaty meat of an endless summer, the holiday is less emblematic of its intention—celebrating the birth of a nation—and more about the gluttony and decadence that has come to define the birthday boy.

Hot dogs and hamburger pucks charred by a drunken relative; perspiring bottles of low-brow domestic beer clutched in chunky, knuckle-free fists. Awkward conversations on a busted-ass lawn, forever dodging dog droppings as you snake your way to the dessert table featuring red, white and blue cupcakes, or better yet, that no-frills sheet cake with the whipped-topping frosting where strawberries and blueberries represent the stars and stripes.

And the fireworks. Oh boy, the fireworks.

If you’re anything like my white-trash family, you know a guy who gets the big stuff. You know, because he hauls-city loads and gets access to the professional grade goods, probably EXACTLY like the stuff Worlds of Fun uses, probably PRECISELY because he steals it from the back of the truck. And maybe, just MAYBE, this dirt bag guy and your dirt-bag uncles set the big stuff off in a residential backyard, and PERHAPS they misfire, because, are you fucking kidding me? It’s not like they’re professionals. And when this happens, your grandpa’s windbreaker catches on fire and you roll his elderly bones on the ground to prevent severe burning and possible death, and most likely, the cops come.

Fourth of July.

But if your family is nothing like mine—and for your sanity AND longevity, I pray that they are not—you’re stuck with the stuff you buy from tents in Riverside. For your shopping ease, I’ve ranked your possible purchases from worst to first.

(Remember: fireworks are barely legal anywhere, so don’t tell anyone I said that these are okay to buy and/or ignite. In that regard, you‘re on your own.)

 

12) Sparklers: Sparklers are the worst. They’re ridiculously dangerous and not at all fun. More people are injured each year by simple sparklers than by any other firework. (Maybe. I think I’ve heard this before. Or I just made it up.) But they’re cheap and plentiful, and people think they’re safe for children. If you allow your children to play with these delightful death sticks, you’re basically saying you don’t care if your children are horribly mutilated. Way to go, mom and dad.

snakes11) Snakes: These are little coal-black rabbit pellets that grow when heated, curl into a blackened piece of dog-shit, and blow away gently before crumbling into nothingness. I can think of nothing more pointless than snakes.

10) Snap-Pops: Really, really stupid. The only reason these aren’t further down the list is that you can satisfyingly attack someone with snap-pops. Seriously, give it a shot. You’ll be the hit of the party. (Or asked to leave, which is something I’m always hoping someone will ask me to do anyway.)

9) Lady-Fingers: The pussy of the firecracker world, lady fingers are good for the elderly, the infirm and the very young. They’ve got a satisfying POP! but they’re too dainty—hence the name—to do any real damage to your flesh. Strictly for beginners and those with slow reaction times and/or aversions to awesomeness.

8) Tanks/Roosters: Place on flat surface with plenty of distance, ignite fuse, and try to set your wife’s cat on fire with the resulting spectacle. These can be “souped-up” with the attachment of some sort of propulsion device such as 6 bottle rockets taped together.

7) Black Cats: A good, solid firecracker. While they lack the true danger of something powerful (M-80, Cherry Bomb, dynamite), they’re great to light off whole-strings at a time, particularly if you put them in some sort of pot, especially if you’re using them to maim and disfigure a GI Joe.

6) Jumping Jacks: For the uninitiated, jumping jacks are like firecrackers except they make a WHIRL! instead of a POP!, they emit brilliantly colored sparks, and they fly around haphazardly, threatening anyone within a 6-foot radius. Great for chasing pets and vagrants, and sending older people into fits of cardiac distress. A real winner.

roman candle5) Roman Candles: Anytime you can hold a stick that shoots small, brightly colored balls of fury and can be used to put Dave’s eye out, it’s a keeper.

4) Bottle Rockets: If you’re one of my uncles, you light these and hold them until they shoot from your hand, singeing your arm-hair (and dignity) in the process. If you’re normal, you put them in a bottle, light the fuse and flee. If you’re 8-year-old Brandon, you tape a grasshopper to the bottle rocket, then get confused when it fails to launch. Perhaps the best firework available for errantly setting a neighbor’s roof on fire.

3) Gigantic Bottle Rockets: Like a regular bottle rocket, but more bad-ass.

2) Artillery Shells: They’re like a Professional Grade Firework Lite. My dad buys these in bulk, and launches them out of a PVC tube specifically built for the occasion. (He doesn’t limit himself to holidays like “Fourth of July” or “New Years Eve,” however, because why should he? Who DOESN’T like a rocket’s red glare in the sky at 3am on a random Tuesday in May?)

1) Professional Grade Fireworks: You know, like Worlds of Fun or Union Station, or after—HAHA!!—homeruns at a Royals game. Nothing compares to the blood, sweat and tears of a thousand little Chinese people when it comes to creating an undeniably festive atmosphere.

Have a safe holiday, KCC!

Follow me on Twitter, @StanfordWhistle

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21 Responses to Leftridge: The Best Fireworks, Ranked

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    One year we sat outside WoF with the other slackers, waiting for dusk. That is a long wait with a van full of two-year-olds. Of course the “audience” was prepping the crowd.

    A grand bottle rocket battle broke out an an errant rocket entered a van. Which had just stopped at Riverside (probably) and was packed. And what a display it made. Too bad dusk was still an hour away.

    Sitting along the Delaware River in Philadelphia with the kids and all of humanity, our long, hot, wait was over. The first projectile was fired and it set off the whole raft.

    Sis & bil will wait with the garden hose in NE as Lil’ Beruit cames alive on the 4th.

    Fortunately in Sleeze Summit, there are those who will blow themselves up for others’ enjoyment.

  2. Interesting Fact says:

    Great story and the the point on all points.

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    Im so disillusioned – The Not So Great Mall of the Not So Great Plains in Olathe didn’t make the cut. The nerve….

    • I went to Olathe yesterday for what was probably the 3rd or 4th time in my life. Feels like a different world out there. Bizarre. Don’t know that I’ll ever be brave enough to go to the mall, though.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        Olathe, an old Indian word meaning duplex (according to Jeff Porter).

        Used to go to the sports car races at the Navy base in Olathe. Not to be confused with the submarine races down at the Missouri River.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Embarassingly, I live there. Olathe is Kansas’ version of Raytown so I get it. Its got some good points, just none that matter.

        • See, it wasn’t that it seemed “Raytown-ish,” necessarily, it’s just WAY the eff out there. And trucks… lots of big, souped-up trucks driven by pimply faced teens in sleeveless t’s.

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Ahhh…. you were in the nice part of town. And correction, the souped up trucks are all driven by illegals, 10% of the population.
            Future hint, if you’re coming from Lenexa, we are actually very close, from Lawrence or Wichita, much further away.

          • admin says:

            If that’s your pleasure you should visit Toepka.

            Or Tonganoxie or you name it.

            The wife of the owner of Kiefs Audio Video in Lawrence gave her stepdaughter a two year old Toyota Prius as a gift when she got her driver’s license a year or so ago.

            Was she thankful? Sorta.

            But only after telling Mrs. K that what she really wanted was a pickup truck.

            You can take the kids out of the country but you can’t take the country outta the kids!

  4. smartman says:

    You forgot about the N*g**r Chasers. Those were the best.

    But nothing beats running down the street with a can of lighter fluid trying to stay ahead of the flame. That did wonders for my 40 time growing up.

  5. the dude says:

    Or if you are like the dude you are in the middle of a burdgeoning bootle rocket war with people from your high school and you are lighting bottle rockets by the dozens stuffed into a 2″ dia PVC pipe with a propane torch. And when you run out of regular bottle rockets (5 gross) you start stuffing the pipe with whistlers. Let me tell you, even holding a 4′ pipe of maybe 3 dozen whislters at the same time get vey hot, so hot you need to hold it as far away from your body as possible.
    Let’s say a stray whislter make it from the pipe to your pocket where you have three dozen more and all of a sudden you notice your shorts pocket is glowing red and whistling and getting VERY HOT! Luckily I had mostly second degree burns and a small amount of 3rd degree and could only sit for a few senior pics the next day because I had a raging fever and a decent amount of my hip burned.

  6. Bill says:

    Keep using PVC and hope to God you don’t end up with a misfire. If you do, you will be picking PVC out of your skin the rest of your life.

    Use either fiberglass, the paper tubes supplied or HDPE pipe. PVC is the worst possible choice.

  7. chuck says:

    Cut a chunk out of a potato, plug an M80 in it, mount the potato in a potato gun, light the M80, fire the potato gun at the police station 1 block away.

    You can do this 364 days a year and get a fine.

    If you do it on Sept 11, you get some time.

  8. This page “Leftridge: The Best Fireworks, Ranked | KC Confidential” is actually interesting on http://www.kcconfidential.com. Besides the fernco you could additionally get whats labeled as a ‘fix trap’ Both items require some pipe kept sticking out of the wall to operate. your would have to cut the end straight because they will not work at a very jagged, irregular end.

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