What Are Your Favorite Fireworks?

Readers, I have a confession. Having grown up in the puritanical state of Massachusetts where even sparklers are illegal, I knew fireworks only as explosions in the far-off sky. I did not know fireworks were things ordinary people could buy, touch, and maim themselves with.

But then I spent last summer in Washington state, where laws around festive explosions are considerably more relaxed. While researching an article about fireworks laws, I stumbled upon Boom City, an Indian reservation that specializes in selling fireworks illegal under state laws. (Let's be honest, I pitched the article so I could look up where to buy fireworks.) Of course, I had to go.

The week before July 4, the drab field in Boom City transforms into an avenue of booths, assaulting your eyes with neon colors and promises of loud explosions. I went right for the biggest shells and rockets that heralded the biggest, brightest, and loudest sparks. Because it already was late in the evening, one vendor threw in a whole box of little novelty fireworks shaped like chickens or tanks or bees, all for 5 bucks. I did not think much of these little things.

Once you got your fireworks at Boom City, you took them to a weedy field crowded with dozens of people all lighting things on fire. If this sounds dangerous, I'm sure it was. The scene was like a battlefield full of smoke and explosions and irresponsible teenagers.

Here is my real confession, guys. I did not especially love setting off huge fireworks. I do, however, love the little novelty fireworks. I loved making the paper tanks fight. I loved the spinners that sputter like demented UFOs. I loved even the dumb chicken that lays an egg. It's my inner 10-year-old who never got to play with minor explosions.

Your turn now. What are the best fireworks? What's the best homemade July 4 display you've ever put on? Pics, videos, and/or descriptions of where they're illegal encouraged.

Top image: Mary Terriberry/shutterstock