It was July 4, 2020, around 9:00PM, and we were driving home from northern New Jersey, crossing the Platt Bridge, from which we could see the entire Philadelphia skyline. Due to covid-19, public fireworks in 80% of the country had been canceled, but we had seen, covered in the news, the long lines snaking around fireworks stores nation-wide, of people waiting to purchase their own arsenals. This year, everyone would be a pyrotechnic.
Instead of a single central exposition, hundreds of individual displays were going off at once throughout the city, mostly in South Philadelphia. A magnificent kaleidoscope of explosions hovered just above the skyline, keeping our eyes flowing eagerly from one to the next: multi-colored fountains and bouquets popped and dropped, letting their red and blue petals float down gently; peonies and chrysanthemums, those giant balls, glittered and flickered right and left; tourbillons, giant stars, spun up and down emitting showers of gold, silver and white glowing embers; sparks tumbled slowly over the skyline. The steady, continuous cascade of light continued till we had crossed the bridge and drove by the sports stadiums. There, some vehicles had even pulled off on the side of the highway, some to spectate, others to set off their own collection. I had never seen such an extensive display over an entire city.
O course, it was illegal, and had its consequential catastrophic fires and burns, but from a purely esthetic perspective, it was truly magical. It also spoke volumes. America would not be deprived of its independence fireworks display, and if their cities and townships would not provide one, then individual citizens would do it themselves. But “the show must go on!” Coinciding with the angry voices against wearing masks in the fight against covid, the voices that screamed out, “You can’t tell me what to do or wear!”, now soared these visual voices screaming equally loud, “See our show of independence!”