Leave the Fireworks to the Pros and Elvis

Summer is when little aluminum buildings on county roads are transformed into sign-plastered fireworks outposts. Maybe the primary thrill for shoppers here is the pyromanic pleasure of lighting a fuse themselves and then stepping back in a sort of game of chicken. Why is this? Almost every emergency room can tell you stories of burns and catastrophes that happened to backyard pyrotechnic enthusiasts. Besides that, most cities have ordinances against shooting fireworks within their limits.

So why even fool with the expense, risk and liability of shooting your own fireworks? Practically every city of some size has a professionally run, sanctioned fireworks show that is visible for miles and is sponsored by radio stations and businesses eager to have your attention. There is no reason to be a nervous wreck imagining one of your kids with nine digits. The fireworks are choreographed to music, and once you’ve participated, you realize that maybe it isn’t a proper Southern 4th without the Boss (Born in the USA) and Lee Greenwood (Proud to Be an American), capped off with an Elvis Trilogy.

Birmingham’s big celebration is “Thunder on the Mountain,” a fireworks show above Vulcan’s torch that makes for an impressive city experience. You can head to the top of a parking deck downtown or any of several streets on either side of the mountain. Prepare to be struck by how many trees are around Birmingham, since they will be a bigger impediment to your view than buildings.

If your kids are able to stay up a little later, an excellent plan for viewing the show is to head to Dreamland on 10th Avenue South and set up sling chairs in the park across the street. Order to go or put your name on Dreamland’s wait list. The place will be crazy busy, even with a tent set up to expand the dining room, but it’s feels like a party.

If dining indoors, let the kids run off some energy at the playground outside while you allow some time for your name to come up. Then dine indoors in the air conditioning, appreciating this All-American meal of barbeque, and get some banana pudding to go. Afterward, head outside to the area you staked out  with chairs and work that banana pudding until 9:00 when the fireworks show starts.

You will have an unobstructed view of the show on top of your barbeque dinner and the enjoyment of fellow citizens all around. When it’s time to go, the grid of streets gives you many options for turning your way out without getting caught in a traffic jam. Avoid getting on the interstates or hwy 31 for as long as you can, since some cars will have pulled over to take in the show.

Happy 4th!