ôLet the Pros Do It."
My best 4th of July holidays were as an adult, not as a kid. When our kids were young, my attorney brother bought a 20-acre gentleman's farm. Driving 400 miles home for Independence Day included a mass sleepover for 20 or so folks in his great country house on Snake Run Road in East Otto, N.Y. (no kidding). Each year, after a day spent splashing in the muddy pond, and hiding in the corn field, a do-it-yourself fireworks show was the holiday climax, followed by a big campfire. It was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting . . . most of the time.
One year, the brother-in-law assigned to purchase contraband explosives (in New York state) was ripped off at the pop-up fireworks stand in Virginia. Those were some OLD roman candles! At least half were duds, which were disposed of in the boxes they had come in. Later in the evening, as the last song faded by the dying fire, my always-efficient sister cleaned up the yard, throwing papers and other trash into the barely glowing embers, which was the way we dealt with farm garbage in prehistoric times.
A few minutes later, our tranquil evening resembled a scene from Apocalypse Now. Violent explosions erupted in and above the fire, sending tracers and flames between the screaming, crawling family members. I spotted my two kids in perfect boot camp position on bellies and elbows. Nana had flung her walker and shuffled away from the duds coming to life with remarkable agility for 92. My eldest nephew shouted without a trace of irony: “Mom, I’ve been hit!”
Of course I can tell the story now with such relish because we all escaped without permanent scarring. Psychological damage to young’uns appears to have been temporary, though I still wonder about one niece. And the lesson (I always need a lesson) for chamber folks from this story from the Fleming family annals? Let the pros do it.
The work you do requires skill and wisdom. You can’t trust just any volunteer to spend the money carefully, handle the project properly, put on a good show and wrap things up without a hitch. You’re the pro. At least supervise to avoid explosive situations for those around your campfire.