by Ashley Murphy
Cooking out, shooting fireworks, and a visit from the cops. If you aren't completely sure what I'm talking about, I'm describing the 4th of July. It's definitely not your typical description of July 4th and hopefully not everyone has the cops called on them while trying to celebrate this great nation's independence. But, this does describe one of my family's celebrations from a couple of years ago. However, the visit from the great Cleveland City law enforcement didn't put a damper on our festivities.
As far back as I can remember my family has always celebrated the 4th of July at my grandparent's house. They moved into a neighborhood off of Harrison Pike somewhere around 17 years ago. Every year since moving into this home, they have had the entire family, and even some members from their church, over for a big cook out and then the shooting off of an abundance of boxes of fireworks after dark.
For the first several years, we would have, what I deemed, "fireworks wars" with the neighbors. We would take turns shooting off the fireworks to determine which family had the better display. It may sound a bit ridiculous, but it was very entertaining and in my opinion, we put on a better show than the city funded firework display. Another added plus, we didn't have to fight the outrageous traffic.
In the most recent years, our neighbors have started going elsewhere to celebrate the 4th, so it has only been our family shooting off fireworks, with the exception of other houses nearby setting off the smaller bottle rockets, roman candles, and sparklers. In all of those years, we have never had any issues with fellow neighbors or any complaints of any kind. Be it known, the home that we shoot fireworks from is in the city and there is a city ordinance that fireworks are not to be set off within city limits. We were obviously never bothering anyone before, because at no time has anyone phoned the house, stopped by to complain... or called the police. At least not until a couple of years ago.
The day was just like any other usual 4th of July. We fired up the grill, cooked our food, had a good meal, then set up our fireworks table. One by one the guys found lighters and started picking through the multiple boxes of fireworks and carried them to the table and then started lighting the fuses. About an hour into the beautifully, wonderful display of color in the sky, another light starts shining on the ground from around the corner of the house. It gets closer, so we are telling everyone to stop what they are doing, but before we can get people to listen, a police officer walks around the corner just as we shoot off a very large, loud, and colorful round of fireworks.
The officer patiently waited for the pops, cracks, and booms to end before he said that someone has filed a noise complaint and that we were violating a city ordinance! After 15 years, someone wants to just now file a complaint?! We clearly didn't want to listen to this poor officer, so we threw him a round of questions to which his reply was, "You aren't supposed to be shooting fireworks in the city limits, so if you continue doing so and we notice it or someone else complains, then you will be issued a citation and will have to pay a fine."
When the officer left, we had to decide what to do. Since it was my grandparents house, we asked them if they wanted us to stop shooting the fireworks. My Nanny just shrugged her shoulders and said that as long as the fine was paid she didn't care what we did. With that said, we went around collecting what cash people had in their pockets so we could make sure everyone could pitch in to cover the amount of the citation if the officer were to come back.
Sure enough, not long after the policeman left, he had to turn around and come right back. We were issued that lovely little piece of paper that said we had to pay a pretty hefty fine. Before someone could attach it to a rocket and make it a pretty scene in the sky, we placed the ticket with all of the money in the house, so that we wouldn't forget to pay it. Then, seeing as how we already had the citation, we continued to shoot our fireworks until the very last one!
Moral of the story, don't make your neighbors mad. Or, if you really just don't care what your neighbors think because you're having too much fun, then make sure you have plenty of money on hand to pay any fines in case you get a visit from the men in blue! Happy 4th of July everyone!