As a Squamish resident of less than one year, I often have the pleasure of learning something I didn't already know about my new home. I've relished discovering things new to me like the thrilling eagles' return, the warm summer winds, the generous volunteerism and friendliness of the town.
And then there are things that don't give me such great pleasure, like this town's unparalleled enthusiasm for Halloween fireworks. For those who have lived here long enough to think this tradition is normal, let me tell you: newcomers are scratching their heads in wonder. We just don't get it. Actually, in speaking to long-time residents, I discovered many of them don't get it either.
The explosives act is provincially regulated, but many cities and towns decided long ago that the cost of damage to property and the general havoc they caused just wasn't worth it. Personally, I don't remember a single time that small fireworks were legally discharged at, say, a picnic when I was a child in my hometown of Ottawa. Now I don't want to be a party-pooper. I'm not advocating the abolishment of fireworks. I'm told that Squamish hasn't had serious enough problems to take that route. The only damage that occurred from fireworks this year, I'm told, was a hedge fire. And that, I'm told, was caused by an adult.
I know discharging fireworks has its amusing qualities, especially for kids. But just a reminder: to lots of people, it's not fun. At best, it's weird. It's weird that we hear explosions well into the night for weeks on end. Do you firework enthusiasts know that it's illegal to discharge explosives after Nov. 1?
It's weird that pet owners must purchase tranquilizers for their terrified dogs and that dog pounds get dramatic increases in runaways and dogs hit by cars. It's weird that the people out there who actually enjoy the thrill of setting off a Roman candle are bothering the dozens of individuals living around them night after night after night. It's weird that parents allow their kids to break the law by discharging the explosives.
It's illegal for anyone under 18 to buy, discharge or handle the explosives. I don't have statistics, but I would lay down pretty good money that one or two of those setting off fireworks in this town are under 18. Call me crazy.
But at worst, fireworks can be terrifying. Remember "Tracy" who, last year, spoke to a Chief journalist about being afraid that the Petro-Can would explode because young vandals were trying to blow up nearby cars with Roman candles? It's really unfortunate that we have this contingent of people in town who are ruining it for everyone else. But come on, these are potential bombs, which, if misused just once, could create a real tragedy.
Once a year, we allow, for weeks on end, the co-opting of this peaceful, quiet town for the privilege of making loud, frightening noises. I don't get it. Now I can say that I won't be looking forward to Halloween in Squamish.