Although a new firework ordinance in Allendale Township sounds like a drag, it may just be warranted after all
Fireworks are, undoubtedly, a great American pastime. Here in the good old U. S., we not only celebrate out independence with grand displays of exploding light, but we work them into nearly any situation we can manage – in the past, with great difficulty in Michigan, due to laws prohibiting their distribution within state lines.
In January of this year, fireworks became legal to buy, sell and light off on private property without any kind of permit to do so, and after years of buying fireworks illegally when driving through Indiana, the Great Lakes state celebrated. With non-stop fireworks. From Great Lake to shining Great Lake.
Michiganders all lost their minds over fireworks going legal, screeches and bangs rang out throughout all of the neighborhoods, throughout all of the night, and sometimes into the morning, waking babies up, scaring old people, and eventually starting fires and injuring careless or intoxicated users of the explosives.
People of Michigan: this is why we can’t have nice things.
It doesn’t take a genius to see why fireworks are great – they’re pretty, there are a million different kinds and colors, and during those long summer nights, it’s just something fun to do. However, it doesn’t take a genius to see why fireworks are a risk – they have the word fire in them, for starters, and something Grand Valley State University’s Assistant Director of the Grand Valley Police Department, Capt. Brandon DeHaan, aptly called an “inherent danger.”
In greater Grand Rapids, one man caused $32,000 in damage with a simple little bottle rocket, because the embers set the dry ground ablaze. So last month, Grand Rapids City Commissioners passed an ordinance that prohibits the use of fireworks to the 10 major national holidays, and the day before and after each. The measured followed dozens like it across the state, each new ordinance reacting to the citizens haphazard use of fireworks.
In a less extreme case of tom-foolery in GVSU’s own backyard in the off-campus apartment complex Hillcrest at the end of June, somebody was shooting off a bottle rocket, and because of the record-setting hot, dry temperatures this summer – wait for it – the embers set the dry ground ablaze. So now, Allendale Township’s City Commission is deciding how best to proceed with an ordinance that would prohibit the use of fireworks to the 10 major national holidays, and the day before and after each. An ordinance that Allendale Township Supervisor Jerry Alkema told the Lanthorn he “anticipates (they) will pass.”
And as much as it sounds like a major buzz kill to say it’s a good idea, it probably is. And the proof? Just look on the scorched patches of ground across the state of Michigan, and you’ll see what we mean.