Editorial: Leave the July 4 fireworks to the pros
Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has energized some do-it-yourselfers, with booms in gardening, home projects and the like.
Some things, however, should be left to professionals -- and that includes the fireworks that have become such a part of our American Fourth of July traditions.
This year, suburban skies will be largely free of the elaborate displays we have come to love. Except for a handful of towns -- including Naperville and Schaumburg -- most communities, trying to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, have nixed next weekend's fireworks.
That has authorities concerned that residents will be tempted to purchase fireworks out of state and launch their own. In fact, many departments are already seeing a spike in fireworks complaints.
Setting off fireworks is a bad idea -- and not just because those who do so are subject to fines.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 10,000 fireworks-related injuries that required a visit to the ER last year, and 73% of them took place between June 21 and July 21.
Mike Figolah, former Mount Prospect fire chief and past president of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, told columnists Charles Keeshan and Susan Sarkauskas that 45% of those injured by fireworks every year are children under 12 years old.
"When things go bad with fireworks," Figolah said, "they go bad terribly."
This year, he predicts, injuries will go up as an increasing number of amateurs try to take the place of professional displays.
Doing so is not worth the risks. And while the pandemic has substantially changed the way suburban residents will mark July 4 on Saturday, there are several safe options for celebrating.
A number of towns -- including Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream and Northbrook -- are encouraging residents to decorate their homes and yards for the holiday, which others can view by car using maps posted online. Glenview, meanwhile, has a reverse parade: Families in cars can drive by stationary floats.
For those who want to stay home, there are wonderful viewing options on television -- from PBS' "A Capitol Fourth" to TCM's showings of patriotic classics. And for subscribers to Disney+, Friday marks the debut of the filmed version of the Broadway blockbuster "Hamilton," starring creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Libertyville native Phillipa Soo. It's an extraordinary production, and a fitting tale of an immigrant Founding Father who had a profound impact on American history.
It's natural to miss our more traditional July 4 celebrations -- including spectacular fireworks displays. But staging your own isn't worth a trip to the emergency room.