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Fri, July 19

Friday Catchall: Fireworks during fire restrictions, only in America!

(Courier file photo)

(Courier file photo)

The Friday Catchall:

• ONLY IN AMERICA – I consider myself patriotic like many folks in the Quad-Cities, and this time of year offers a feast with fireworks on top.

Imagine millions of people — 68 percent — barbecuing millions of hot dogs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture, that many people fired up 40 million grills last year and experts predict Americans this year will eat at least 180 million frankfurters on Independence Day.

That’s nearly one hot dog for every two people in the United States.

Only in America!

Imagine at-home pyros spending $649 million on fireworks and municipalities spending $318 million on professional shows. That’s a lot of shells and gunpowder up in smoke in one evening.

Only in America!

Imagine, however, Stage II Fire Restrictions — which went into effect today, June 30, in the Prescott area; yet, stores still sell sparklers (they burn as hot as 2,000 degrees!) and other “low-key incendiary devices.” That’s thanks to the fireworks lobbyists and lawmakers from metropolitan areas insensitive to the risks of fire in places such as Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Mayer, Dewey-Humboldt, etc. … rural Arizona.

Only in America!

Imagine now Chino Valley opting to cancel its fireworks for public safety, while Prescott Valley and Prescott are waiting until Monday to decide. One official is concerned whether firefighters will be available. I have seen it many times, though, when the show becomes an exercise in watching fire crews scramble to put out hotspots, instead of looking to the sky.

(Again, in light of the Goodwin Fire and the conditions out there, should we move forward with fireworks? I don’t think so, but watch the Courier for details.)

Only in America!

So, imagine this most American of holidays being without politics. Apparently before 1788 that was the case. Seems Fourth of July celebrations that year were the first to be political as factions fought over the adoption of the Constitution at Albany, New York, according to the National Archives.

It was shortly after that (1801) when parades celebrating our independence started including candidates for public office as entries. Strangely, it’s also the first mention of pooper-scoopers cleaning up after parades too.

Pardon the sarcasm and, yes, only in America!

• MONSOON – The annual “rainy season” used to be measured by inches, when the wet stuff started to fall. That usually begins the week of July 4, according to my memory bank.

However, the official start of the monsoons this year was declared a few weeks ago; but, we have not received a drop.

From the 1960s and well into the 2000s, the Phoenix National Weather Service office had pronounced the annual arrival of the monsoon in Arizona on the first of three consecutive days when its daily average dew point hit 55 degrees. The pronouncement basically covered all of Arizona except for Tucson, which used the same three-day measurement except for its 54-degree marker.

Weather Service meteorologists said the dew point measurement was an artificial calculation that had nothing to do with the real meaning of the word “monsoon,” which is a seasonal widespread reversal in wind direction.

Now? “The monsoon season begins on June 15 and ends on Sept. 30, and the storms peak between mid-July and mid-August.” That’s the official word, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

It has nothing to do with rainfall in this arid state, which sports more fires than rainstorms in May and June.

Oh, and be prepared: those storms bring lightning.

• QUOTE – “We lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.” – Mark Twain (1835-1910)

• PICK OF THE WEEK – (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): The “World’s Oldest Rodeo” (call 928-445-3103) and the annual parade in downtown Prescott (July 1 at 9 a.m.). Arrive early.

Follow Tim Wiederaenders on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2032, or


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