Monday, November 7, 2011

There's Gonna Be Fireworks

Guy Fawkes Day -- or as it seems more commonly known, Bonfire Night -- was on Saturday.  Much of the advertising -- like supermarkets promoting special offers on food and drinks for "bonfire night" -- reminded me of similar ads you see in the US for the Super Bowl.  Since "Super Bowl" is trademarked, the ads always have to refer to it in some other way, like the "big game."  In this case, though, I think it's because the origin of the holiday is largely forgotten (it has been over 400 years, after all), so most people think of November 5 as a day to have bonfires and fireworks.

The laws concerning fireworks here seem to be much more lenient than in the US.  In fact, according to the London Fire Brigade, this is it:
  • It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in public places and an offence for anyone other than a firework professional to possess professional display fireworks.
  • Police have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to those under the age of 18 caught with fireworks in a public place.
  • It is also illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am. On 5 November your display can continue until midnight. Exceptions have also been made for celebrating other special occasions like New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year when fireworks can be set off until 1am.
Since Diwali began 10 days before bonfire night, we've been hearing -- and often seeing -- fireworks nearly every night for the past couple weeks.  In addition to public displays at local parks and schools, there is a store that sells fireworks just 3 blocks from our house, so many of our neighbors have been setting them off from their yards.  The fire brigade must be extremely busy at this time of year!

Since we had gone to the bonfire and fireworks at Wimbledon Park on Friday night, and the weather was threatening to rain on Saturday, we decided to take advantage of everyone else being out watching fireworks and go see a movie.  Of course, as soon as it got dark (which happens here by 5 pm now) it sounded like a war zone with fireworks going off in every direction.  We opened the french doors of the little Juliet balcony in our bedroom and watched the fireworks display at the park 2 blocks away.  We could even see the glow from the bonfire.
Fireworks from our bedroom window
One of our neighbors behind us was having a party in their back garden, and they also had quite a few fireworks.  We poked our heads out the back door to get a better look, and saw our neighbors doing the same.  Then their 8-year-old son came outside with something that looked like a paint can -- but turned out to be some pretty serious-looking fireworks of their own.  Sadly, we had to leave before they set it off.  We kept our fingers crossed that our house would still be there when we returned.

We had a casual dinner at Nando's, and thanks to our table by the window, were treated to yet another fireworks display while we ate.  We had a brief respite from the pops, bangs, and booms while we watched Tintin (in IMAX 3D), which was quite entertaining, but the backyard shows continued until late at night.  We couldn't imagine there were any fireworks left in the greater London area by the time we went to bed, but apparently there were enough leftovers that they continued on Sunday -- even during the day.  Sheesh!  I love fireworks, but I'm looking forward to some explosion-free evenings.

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