I grew up in Missouri. Fireworks are legal in Missouri. Near the end of June, firework signs start popping up every 500 feet or so. It's a mad house. They all compete with one another... offering 2 for 1, 3 for 1, 4 for 1. They basically give fireworks away, but since each firework costs about a nickle to produce, it all works out okay for everyone. Distributors set up huge tents with fireworks displayed like a farmer's market, ready for discriminating families to pick out only the most plump and destructive wares. It's always a lot of fun.

I learned recently that fireworks are illegal in Pennsylvania.

Here's how it works. Fireworks stands in Pennsylvania aren't allowed to sell to Pennsylvania residents. Fireworks stands in Ohio aren't allowed to sell to Ohio residents. Both can sell to residents of the adjacent state. Which is where I found myself this weekend.

Ohio's fireworks stands have all the patriotic charm of a Depression-era bread line. About fifty people with clipboards, crammed into a portable building where the fireworks are numbered and safely restrained under glass. The idea is to mark up the selections on the clipboard and give it to the attendant who actually fills the order from the back room.

I never really appreciated the carnival-like atmosphere of the 4th of July when I was growing up. Now I do... and seventy miles later, I'm ready to celebrate our nation's independence. Have a great holiday everyone!

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