Wednesday, July 05, 2006

V.F.W. Fireworks!

Didn't do much of anything for the 4th. I had hoped that I might get Rachel out of the apartment, but she had cleaning issues (go check her site for details). However, nothing was going to deter me from going to East Helena (about 3 miles, uh, east of Helena) for the annual V.F.W. fireworks display. I've been going to see these since Dad tossed us all in the station wagon and S3 would cry the entire time because of the noise. I think they had a new company running the display. Seemed more professional--but much shorter, timewise. I don't think they allowed the V.F.W. guys light them anymore. Thank you, Department of Homeland Security. They actually prevented the show about 3 years ago when unknown paperwork hadn't been completed!

Anyway...I camped out in my traditional place--on the shoulder of the highway, about 150 directly across from where they shoot them from. East Helena's claim to fame is that it was home to one of the only lead smelters in the nation. It's closed down. And most of the old homes in East Helena are lead contaminated. Most of the original town now sits on a huge Superfund site. The town is not thriving, by any stretch of the imagination. But they know how to celebrate the 4th! Almost every home has a day-long party, which is culminated by setting off their own fireworks just before dusk, watching the big show, then finishing off anything that wasn't taken care of earlier.

Safety? Who needs it? Cars coming down the road? Well, set off that fountain thing before they get here! Firecrackers? Here, set this block of 10,000 off at once! Anyone else need another beer? Did you see that video of the guy shooting off a bottle rocket out of his butt?

Seriously--it's just like that! A couple driving through from Texas parked a few feet down the road from me. She came over and asked if all these private fireworks were legal. East Helena allows the setting off of fireworks in town on the 4th and New Year's Eve, so yes, they were legal. And that's why I go back year after year. No, they aren't as spectacular as the big cities. But the atmosphere, the tradition, the spectacle and the universal "ooh..." followed by the "ahhh..." make it one of the things I must do every year.

Bonus this year--I took the camera. I've never tried taking fireworks pictures, but I must say that I impressed myself! Most of these were about 2.5 second shutter speeds, and my aiming and timing were strictly luck! These are all directly from the camera. No adjustments or anything else... As usual--be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them and get the full effect!

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