They are gaudy and loud. Dangerous, too. But oh, an Independence Day without fireworks would be a sorry Fourth of July, indeed.
Perhaps there is no better testament to the need to finish off our annual birthday celebration with a grand pyrotechnic display than the fact that here in Tampa Bay, our community fireworks live on. They will explode tonight, evoking awe in both young and old alike, from St. Pete Beach to Temple Terrace; from Inverness to Bradenton.
Not all communities have been so lucky. News reports show that various local governments across the country, their coffers as punished as their citizens' wallets by the economic recession, have decided this year they cannot afford to light up the sky.
But that's not, proudly, the case for most of Tampa Bay. Private businesses and individuals have stepped up to make sure the show goes on. For that, their communities are thankful.
In 1777, on the first celebration of Independence Day, fireworks marked the occasion. What an indulgence it must have been for a nascent nation still struggling to stand on her own. But one can imagine the first U.S. citizens turning their heads skyward, taking a moment to revel in the revolution they had wrought and the possibilities it could portend.
Tonight is another opportunity to celebrate the remarkable birth of a nation that endures. After the backyard burgers and the day at the beach, we will gather with neighbors and gaze skyward for the dazzling spectacle that unfolds. We will oohh and ahhh and perhaps, for just a second, revel in the audacious experiment of these United States of America.