Thanks a bunch, Pennsylvania lawmakers — the din of Fourth of July fireworks did not let up

(Lancaster Online – Editorial Board) THE ISSUE – Last year, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a fireworks law that permits the purchase and use of commercial-grade fireworks — such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and fireworks containing a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive material — that Pennsylvania residents were previously prohibited from buying or using. The law prohibits fireworks from being set off within 150 feet of an occupied structure, which would rule out their use in most of Lancaster city. Nevertheless, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace and Fire Chief Scott Little asked City Council for an ordinance that explicitly prohibits the use of commercial-grade fireworks on any city-owned property, including parks, streets and sidewalks. But that ordinance, adopted June 26, won’t take effect until the third week of July.

OK, everyone, did we get that out of our systems?

Now that we’ve had our fun with fireworks previously off-limits to us, can we give them a rest?

Our dogs and cats certainly could use a break — the Fourth of July was a nightmare of nonstop noise for them. From dusk to well past midnight, the neighborhoods of Lancaster County were rocked by the sizzling, booming and cracking noises of high-powered fireworks being set alight.

Not even ThunderShirts and animal sedatives could ease the nerves of some of our frazzled furry friends.

It wasn’t a whole lot of fun for homeowners, either, as revelers seemed to ignore the 150-feet rule with merry abandon, and some of us watched nervously as orange embers drifted in the evening breeze toward our properties.

Blame us for the rain that fell that evening. Many of us were praying for it.

We weren’t alone in feeling less than festive on the Fourth.

“We live in Quaker Hills in Millersville (and) had to hear the (darned) things from 8 p.m. until a little after midnight. The problem is that people only think about themselves,” Stan Will wrote on LancasterOnline. “… This change in the law was one of the most stupid things the nitwits in Harrisburg have done.”

Another reader, Gail Jenks, weighed in: “While I enjoy fireworks, there should be a time limit to set them off. People in Lancaster Twp. (were) shooting fireworks off after 11 p.m.”

Look, we get it: Fireworks are fun. Independence Day is a great American holiday. And our newly found freedom as Pennsylvanians to set off fireworks that — inexplicably — nonresidents used to be able to purchase here, while we could not, surely added to the excitement.

But was it a good idea, really, to make powerful fireworks available to those of us who have no idea how to handle them?

The editorial board of the Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre called Wednesday’s racket “the sound of freedom, or at least of consistency.” If consistency was the aim, maybe instead of giving Pennsylvanians the same right to blow off their fingers as nonresidents had before, the more sensible idea would have been to keep nonresidents from buying Roman candles and bottle rockets.

The Pennsylvania Career Fire Chiefs Association opposed the more liberal law, for good reason.

In Lancaster city, police Lt. Bill Hickey said 83 fireworks complaints were called in to Lancaster County-Wide Communications on the Fourth of July —  that’s up from 38 calls last year, LNP staff writer Tom Knapp reported, though Hickey said it was likely that many of those calls were about the same incidents.

And while Knapp reported that only one fireworks-related arrest was made in Manheim Township, and Lancaster General Hospital treated only two fireworks-related injuries, there was this: A device believed to be a legal firework called a blooming flower caused about $8,500 in fire damage Thursday to two Lancaster city homes, according to the Lancaster City Bureau of Fire.

Battalion Chief Ken Barton said two or three teenagers had set off the blooming flower on a sidewalk outside of 504 S. Pearl St.

LNP staff writer Alex Geli reported that the firework then was placed into an outdoor trash can before it completely cooled, causing flames to shoot out from the garbage and engulf the side of the house. Barton said the intense heat melted the siding on the neighboring house, at 508 S. Pearl St.

Remind us: What was so terrible about sparklers?