I have always been a big fan of the 4th. of July! BBQ's, dad was home, there might even be home made ice cream. My favorite event of the day was a toss up though. To this day I don't know what is more fun, going to the fireworks stand or lighting them off. Ok, I have to admit that lighting them off is a bit more fun but picking out those great fireworks can be a crap shoot.
This year I noticed the flyer handout at my local stand had those new bar codes next to the pictures of fireworks. I could just scan the code with my phone and learn more about that firework. What I didn't expect was the video! The fireworks sold at the stand near my house and from what I have seen the stands in McKinleyville are TNT products. At their web site (removed due to TNT request) there are several videos of fireworks from beginning to end. Sadly though not all of them are in video form. There is also a rating system that is used both on line and at the stands. The system is not complete but for the most part there 3 main categories rated 1 through 5 stars with 5 being best. 1 is the amount of noise, 2 is the height or altitude and the third is color. Sometimes at the stand the stickers next to the fireworks will have these three codes but what they don't tell you is what they really look like or how long they go. The videos do this well and you can see the difference between some of the $20 dollar items compared to the $2 or $3 dollar items.
For some people the package assortment is the best and easiest way to buy them. If you have a younger child and the show is mostly for them, one of these and a single bigger item for a finale would probably get the job done. For adults, the bigger, the better. Adults are usually less interested in snakes and smoke bombs. Remember that in California, there are no fireworks that leave the ground or have wheels. This is why many of the fireworks look somewhat the same. A little time on the computer might help in picking out the best bang for your buck. I say that figuratively because in California they don't go bang, they crackle.
Be safe but have fun. A roadside flair off to the side is a safe way for lighting those pesky fake sparklers. The old ones on a metal wire were outlawed but the new ones on wooden sticks still flare up when they ignite which sucks if you are the one holding the bic lighter. A road flare doesn't care if it gets burned. Also have a bucket of water as well as a hose around just in case.
Now for some bad advice but it's what I always do. If you have a paved area free of trees, shrubs or dry grass, you can put up a platform about 5 or 6 feet high to light the fountains on. THE FIREWORKS SAY RIGHT ON THEM TO PLACE ON LEVEL SURFACE. They used to say "ground" so as long as the platform is level and you have taken the precautions, you can have a much more exciting show with a platform. An aluminum ladder works well. Use the paint holder area or even the top of a 6 foot or shorter ladder. If you can't get it flat and level, forget it. Also KEEP FIREWORKS OUT OF THE WOODS! Remember, only use outdoors and under adult supervision.