8 kinds of fireworks

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Sweet fireworks dude.
Sweet fireworks dude.

by Brian Clarey

1. Firecrackers

It’s the Fourth of July weekend, kids, and here in North Carolina that means fireworks! Sort of. All the good ones are illegal here, particularly these little babies, pocket-sized explosives with plenty of bang. The traditional firecracker is made of just a little dose of tightly packed flash-bang powder, not much but enough to take a finger off, I think. Why else would they be illegal in North Carolina? 

2. Fountains

These are the kind of fireworks we can legally purchase in our state: ground-based tubes that emit showers of colored sparks — no report. Yawn. Seems kind of un-American, does it not?

3. Roman candles

Now let’s talk about the good stuff. Your basic Roman candle is entry-level stuff, just a cardboard tube loaded with a few charges that whistle, sizzle or explode after their streak. Loved these when I was a kid. But never, under any circumstances, should you ever stage a Roman candle fight in your friend’s backyard using garbage-can lids for shields.

4. Spinners

There are lots of different kinds of spinners. Some you fix vertically to a place on a wall, others you lay on the ground. Some fly through the air of their own accord. My faves are the little ones that look like firecrackers — jumping jacks — because when you throw them just right they are capable of achieving flight. Also: Never do that.

5. Rockets

Rockets — those things that look like firecrackers on a stick. They work as advertised, shooting up in the air and exploding, sometimes with a whistle or a flash. Want to make a friend for life? Give a kid a gross of bottle rockets and a tube to shoot them out of, which is also something you shouldn’t do.

6. Poppers, snaps, smoke bombs and snakes

This right here is the pantheon of crappy fireworks, all of which are perfectly legal in North Carolina. Poppers and snaps make a noise, sometimes with confetti. Smoke bombs serve almost no purpose whatsoever unless you’re Batman. And snakes, those little carbon pellets that expand after you burn your fingers trying to light them? Pointless.

7. Aerial shells and repeaters

Now we’re talking. This is the good stuff: little mortars that, when launched high above the skyline, shatter in explosive colors and sounds. These are pyrotechnics, the stuff of big municipal celebrations and ballparks. I believe it’s easier to buy a gun in North Carolina than procure an aerial-repeater cake — unless you have a car that can make it to South Carolina. Note: You should not smuggle fireworks.

8. Sparklers

I don’t care who you are: It’s fun to dance around in a dark backyard with a sparkler in each hand. This one you should definitely do.