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Thoughts from the Publisher | June 22, 2018

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Fourth of July used to be one of my favorite holidays. Back in the ‘60s we would get together with neighbors on Independence Day and enjoy a day of eating hot dogs, corn on the cob, watermelon, potato salad and various items grilled on barbeques by the neighborhood dads.

In those days, outdoor games were popular too. Water-balloon fights were a must, as were foot races, croquet, bocce ball and badminton.

When evening came around, boxes and bags of “safe and sane” fireworks seemed to magically appear. Our folks had no doubt bought them at local stands earlier in the week and hid them from us so we would be surprised. We kids would line up, waiting for our lit sticks of sparklers to wave around. Soon after the sparklers were all burned out, the kids and moms would sit in lawn chairs or on the grass to watch the local dads set off our own private fireworks show.

Things are different now, and I dread the couple of weeks before, after and during our nation’s most celebrated holiday. What used to be a one-day neighborhood gathering has turned into a free-for-all illegal extravaganza of terribly loud and startling noises that are, for me, difficult to distinguish from gunfire. For those couple of weeks, not only am I in a constant state of anxiety, I am disturbed by the utter terror that all of this noise causes for our dogs.

We don’t dare leave the house to celebrate the occasion with friends or to watch local municipal fireworks displays. Instead, we feel that we have to stay home and do our best to keep our dogs calm.

As I was thinking about writing this column, I saw a posting on Facebook that explains how another local person feels about all the noise that disturbs our neighborhoods at this time of year. I reached out to the author of that post, Steffen Cook, and he agreed to let me use his words in this column. See below for his thoughts on the matter:

An appeal to the consciences of those with the fireworks.

At this time of year, as well as New Year’s Eve, one solitary firework equals at least an hour of my dogs cowering, barking and going frantic. My carpets are torn to ribbons due to them being so scared. It’s an outlet for their fear and I can only hold one of my dogs under a blanket at a time.

In my house, my wife and I get no evening time for weeks and weeks, as the first set of fireworks normally go off at 7pm. So, for three to four hours, every night, we cannot make plans or do anything. Each night is spent trying to hold our dogs close, comforting them, shushing them and cradling them until the fireworks stop.

Once the firework “season” ends, I then get to pay for another new carpet.

Due to the fireworks, the medication that I buy (but loathe giving my dogs), the missed work, the damaged carpets and furniture, the Thundershirts, well, it all costs me and terrifies them. Trust me, there is no avenue of calming them I haven’t explored.

I appeal to your consciences. Please consider going to organized shows and displays. Your brief seconds of fun is hours of misery for others and costs a fortune for those that have to deal with it.

I won’t bang the “it’s illegal” drum. We are all well aware of the rules and laws in Long Beach. I know you all know that some military veterans don’t like it either. I have one friend who hides in his bathroom with a duvet over him when he hears it. His PTSD is severe. I know that, deep down, you don’t want to exacerbate this for our brave servicemen.

This is just an appeal to the goodness in your hearts. Please leave the fireworks alone. You are inadvertently causing misery to thousands of people. Please. Please reconsider.
Thanks in advance.

–Steffen Cook

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Thoughts from the Publisher | June 22, 2018