Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4, 2012: Birch Bay Celebrates with Flashes and Booms

On a crisp, clear day, as night approached, crowds gathered along Birch Bay Drive. Many of the people who own property near, but not on, the Bay went to their porches, decks, and balconies, joined by their guests. Others drug chairs to sit outside to watch the show. Lots of folks with beach-front property had invited guests, and they sat outside at picnic tables, eating and drinking and laughing. 

Several hundred people who don't live in Birch Bay parked along the drive or at a beach access lot. They selected the best spots they could find to watch the fireworks over Birch Bay.

As the nightfall approached, the stars of the show -- the people who had laid out big bucks for rockets, artillery shells, and other devices that produce loud noise and bright lights in the sky -- took their places along the half circle of the Bay. A few could not wait for the sunset to dim, and they started shooting their BoomBoomBooms, Whistling Busters, and Fast and Furious shells shortly after 9:00 p.m.

The explosions and bright flashes were framed by the Canadian mountains and the nearly islands.

A few explosions as the sunset lingers

Though dark has not yet arrived, this rocket produces a nice effect on the Bay
The serious firework display began at about 9:30, though the sunset was lingering. Viewing from near the entrance to the Birch Bay State Park, I could see several big firing points, most along the Bay from Harbor Road to the mouth of Terrell Creek, but also at the land owned by the Bay Rim Apartments, the public access point near the bridge over Terrell Creek, and other access points up to the state park.

Darkness deepens; the explosions intensify
The fun thing about Birch Bay fireworks is that the sequence and choice of fireworks at any given moment is random. Dozens of different people purchase the fireworks. They make, independently, choices about what they will buy, when they will shoot it, and from where they will launch their fireworks. The result is an un-programmed, even anarchic, display of light and sound. It is chaotic, inefficient, indecipherable; elements of the display might or might not exist at any minute -- depending on what is or is not done by sets of people who do not know each other. And of course, what each viewer sees depends on where he or she decides to stand or sit. Each location offers a different show. For those with an academic mentality, we would call this a democratic post-modernistic production; others would just call it crazy.  

The anarchy begins as random fireworks pop up in random places 

Light and sound along the Bay
With the uncoordinated nature of the fireworks display, the evening has moments of intense light and sound coming from different directions, often so fast that an observer is whipping his head from side to side in order not to miss anything. Then, the lulls will come, and quiet will descend for a few minutes, only to be following by another barrage at some unpredictable moment.  

The mountains, water, and boats nicely frame the fireworks display

The color of the fireworks multiplied in the Bay

Of course, many places throughout the United States have fireworks displays. Many have great, even dramatic, settings for their shows and hire professionals to plan the sequence of colors and sounds that will be shot up into the sky. Often these displays are awe inspiring and have elements that truly astound watchers.

The professional displays are great fun, but I have come to like the unpredictability and independent spirit of the Birch Bay night of fireworks. What it lacks in coherence, timing, plot, and grand finale, it makes up for with exuberance and endurance -- the fireworks display, starting tentatively in the 9:15 gloaming continues into the prime sleeping hour of midnight.

Birch Bay provide a magnificent setting for the fireworks display. The beauty of the colors of the fireworks, and the paintings they sketch in the sky, are especially vivid against the background of mountains and islands, and the reflections in the Bay.

After an hour or so of the fireworks, I grow weary of the explosions and less enthralled with the colors in the sky. Then, I like to squint my eyes as I look into the sky. Also I enjoy viewing the colors of the fireworks reflected in the Bay and on Terrell Creek. These ways of seeing the fireworks create abstract art that could hang in a museum.

Squint your eyes and look up to see this in the Birch Bay sky

The beauty of Birch Bay on July 4, 2012


  1. FANtastic 4th of July photos, Dan. Worthy of a gallery showing -- some very Monet-ish.

  2. Thanks, Al and Ruth. I enjoy your blog: