Gerry from Valparaiso sends in this contribution - it is pretty timely. Have a great Fourth everyone! As an aside, we blow up a lot of stuff here in Wisco as well - many residents of Northern Illinois come up over the state line to purchase their illegal fun every Fourth.
Welcome To Indiana!
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday of all. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy but I just love blowing things up.
As you motor into Indiana from Illinois near the Chicago metro area about five miles before the state line you will notice a steady array of billboards along the I-94. The messages are usually seasonal. There are billboards for strip clubs, casino boats, cheap tobacco and the price of cheaper gas at upcoming truck stops (gawd I love this state). Indiana has a way of attracting the residents of Illinois and their wallets with vice, cheaper gasoline and much cheaper tobacco.
Near the Fourth of July the fireworks retailers dominate the billboard messages. One retailer in particular is Krazy Kaplan’s Fireworks. He must have three dozen billboards along a fifteen-mile stretch of I-94 alone. He also has more locations than anyone else. The billboard image speaks for itself. Krazy.
My favorite fireworks retailer is Shelton’s in Porter IN at the I-94 and US20 interchange. They claim to be the world’s largest fireworks store. And it is huge.
Fireworks marketing is quite interesting. It’s all the same stuff but they think of clever ways to set one aerial bomb apart from another. One item that caught my eye is called “Pool Table”. It is made to look like a mini pool able and contains 21 consecutive aerial bombs connected to one fuse. Nice.
Another new item is called “Sword of Lights”. It is 3’ long, comes with a built-in spike to stick into your lawn and shoots out lots of fun pyro stuff. I bought one of those too.
And then there are mortars. My favorites. These are scaled-down versions of the big stuff launched by the pros at your local town J-4 celebration. They’re really awesome. I like the one named “Da Big Thumper” How Chicago! I bought three. To light on ‘da fourt.
Being at Shelton’s near the forth is better than being at Wal-Mart near Christmas to see the most diverse (ahem) people. Many who go through the cashier line think nothing of dropping $500 - and they look as if they are spending the monthly mortgage payment on the double-wide. Ba-dum.
For the past decade or so Indiana allowed the sale of fireworks to anyone over eighteen, resident or non-resident. Before you make the purchase you must present a photo ID and sign a form with your name and address vowing that the fireworks you purchased would not be detonated in the State of Indiana where detonating fireworks was illegal. How’s that for irony?
Each year since the sale of fireworks has been legal in Indiana the Illinois State Police would set up sting operations. The Chicago news media simply cannot resist a story like this and they play it each year. Undercover Illinois troopers copy the license plate numbers of Illinois vehicles leaving the parking lot and radio the license plate numbers to squad cars waiting on the Illinois side in order to intercept and bust these criminals once they cross ‘da border. Go figure, Illinois doesn’t have enough cops to fight urban gang violence and mayhem but they can easily manage to bust a large number of the firecracker crowd. In Illinois they will do anything to generate state revenue. Busting gang bangers costs the state money. Busting a firecracker smuggler makes the state money. There ‘ya go!
Well, finally this year our fine Indiana Governor signed a bill allowing the legal detonation of WMD’s (Weapons of Minimal Destruction) by residents right here in Indiana. Yep. Finally. They have left it up to local municipalities to regulate times and dates.
Fireworks are quite disturbing to some of my neighbors mainly because of their pets.
Most pets hate fireworks and get real freaky. Some of my friends and neighbors purchase downer meds from the local vet to calm down their pups on the 4th. I don’t have that problem. I have bird dogs. English Setters. Fireworks only turn them on. A loud bang to them means a bird or two is down and it’s time to fetch. That becomes another problem in itself for me. I hate to disappoint my setters.
Have a bang-up Fourth of July everyone. And God bless America!