Well, it’s here. This week, America will celebrate its birth for the 238th time.
In Portland, the Fourth of July is traditionally marked by honoring Article I of the Constitution, which provides for unfettered interstate commerce. That is, by driving over the Columbia River to purchase things that fly up in the air and go boom, which are outlawed here. But what if we were to instead honor the day by obeying Oregon law? Though most fireworks you’ll hear and see at 3 am come from across the Columbia, there is a large selection of Oregon-legal, “safe and sane” fireworks available at your local Safeway parking lot. And a few of them are actually—er, not totally lame.
We went to one such parking lot, bought a bunch of legal TNT fireworks, set them off on a street corner, and ranked them from best to worst (see below). We guarantee if you take our advice, you’ll be the envy of your cul-de-sac, at least until the bad kids come back from across the river. TREE PALMEDO.
1. Mother Nature
What it does: Lets off sporadic bursts that get more intense as they go.
How lame is it? Worth paying for at a fireworks show—if it were 20 feet in the air and there were four of them.
Biggest thrill: With its noxious, sulfur-smelling black fumes, you could also use it as a smoke bomb.
What it does: You know what it does.
How lame is it? Relatively speaking, it’s a lot more fun than most legal fireworks.
Biggest thrill: You can wave it in people’s faces, so it’s actually pretty dangerous.
3. Blazing Rebel
What it does: Sends up white bursts for almost a minute.
How lame is it? The longevity only emphasizes its mediocrity.
Biggest thrill: It scared a dog, if not any humans.
4. Precious Stones
What it does: Sends green and gold sparks flying haphazardly. Doesn’t get too far off the ground, but has a wide blast radius.
How lame is it? While the green is a nice touch, it kind of fizzles out pathetically at the end.
Biggest thrill: It would maybe take a toddler’s eye out.
5. Golden Shower
What it does: Flames up like a little campfire in a box, then sends bright bursts about a foot into the air for 30 seconds.
How lame is it? Lame and obscene.
Biggest thrill: It seems more pathetic at first than it ultimately is.
6. Wasp Attack
What it does: It crackles for a few seconds, then screams for one. The grand finale is a little green flame that looks like troll hair sticking out of the box.
How lame is it? Points for ambition, but pathetic execution.
Biggest thrill: The scream is surprising, at least, and patriotic—it sounds like an eagle swooping down from a 2-foot tree.
7. Rose Blossom
What it does: It’s a tiny red flame for five seconds. Then it shoots red sparks 10 feet into the air before petering out miserably.
How lame is it? Mostly awful.
Biggest thrill: That initial burst is only borderline legal.
8. Flashing Fountain
What it does: Flames up like a colored birthday candle.
How lame is it? Not as fun as blowing out birthday candles.
Biggest thrill: It’s small but hot, melting its plastic base.
9. Rain Dance
What it does: The requisite dud in the group. It would seem that rain is not the best theme for a firework.
How lame is it? At least it’s not the snake.
Biggest thrill: That moment when you finally muster the courage to pick it up.
What it does: Burns and flops around on the ground like a charred wet noodle.
How lame is it? The worst.
Biggest thrill: N/A.
GO: The Fourth of July is Friday, July 4, from sea to shining sea.