Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th July, fireworks, California drought, French versus American fireworks displays?

It does seem a little odd, that a state stricken by drought and often rampaged by wildfires, allows the sale of fireworks, in the street, in some towns (but not others). It also seems really strange to me that, for the most part, the fireworks are sold for the benefit of various religious organizations, churches, groups, and that they always-without-fail say that the prices are significantly lower than retail... when the street stands may be the only place that you can legally buy the full range of available fireworks.

ALISON TOON: Fireworks on 4th July &emdash; Fireworks on Independance Day, USA

Go figure that one out.

ALISON TOON: Fireworks on 4th July &emdash; Fireworks on Independance Day, USA

This year, the 4th July 2014, I was at home in Citrus Heights, California, having a restful day, catching up on sleep and reading after a lot of international travel over the past couple of months. A quiet day at home. Went to see the fireworks display in Carmichael. Came home, set off a few in the street, bucket of water at hand. (Earlier in the day, there had been a major grass fire near the location for a bigger display in Sacramento, but it had been put out in time for the fireworks. I wanted to be closer to home.)

Same day, last year, I was out of the valley, up in Sparks, Nevada, for a Gemini Syndrome concert.

I like fireworks. I think they are beautiful, fun. I like the ones that are deceptively pretty, then BOOM and your insides rock, but they don't seem to have them often in the displays here. I like the French, "Son et Lumière" firework events, on Bastille Day, La Fête Nationale, Le quatorze juillet, with the weird and wonderful voiceovers, themed displays, such as movies or battles or historical stories. I never did see Clint Eastwood appear in the sky, but the fireworks over Grenoble's Bastille were beautiful. Orchestrated. The sound was never all patriotic songs, but a mix: recognition that this was a day of national pride, then moving on to the sound-and-light theme of the evening. Incongrous? Maybe, but it made for a great show.

Grenoble is a city, but not much bigger than a suburb of Sacramento, given that it's enclosed by walls of mountains. And I remember the Grenoble displays as being much bigger, better-choreographed, and grander than any fireworks display I've seen in the USA so far (no, I've not been at a San Francisco or New York display yet, but that's like comparing Paris or London with Carmichael or Fair Oaks).

So I had to make sure I'm not looking at the past through late-evening, rose-coloured glasses.

I'm not. Here's a snippet, just a small part, of last year's July 14th fireworks from Grenoble, France, uploaded to YouTube by paraca78. If you want to see them this year, you still have time to jump on a plane-- Bastille Day is celebrated all over France, on 14th July, with some minor towns having their own fireworks on 13th, so that you get two nights of celebration.

My fireworks shots from last night, in Carmichael and in front of the house, were all taken hand-held, no tripod and no long exposures. Enjoying the show and just grabbing a few shots. A few more ptotos:

ALISON TOON: Fireworks on 4th July &emdash; Fireworks on Independance Day, USA

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