If you are a tourist heading up to Denali National Park along the highway from Anchorage you have undoubtedly seen the fireworks stands that dot the landscape as you head into Houston, Alaska.
There are at least four of them–you have a couple small guys and then the grand daddy of them all, Gorilla Fireworks. It is almost a tourist trap, replete with a double-decker, English style bus, a Bat-mobile, dancing clowns and an inflatable gorilla that is at least 25 feet tall!
You see, fireworks are illegal in all of the Mat-Su Valley and Anchorage, unless the borough gives special permission. But they are legal in Houston. They need something to draw people to this little hamlet that this just a speck on the highway where 60% of the residents still use outhouses and have no electricity.
As I drove by the fireworks stands yesterday they were booming with business. Of course they were. The Fourth of July holiday is just two weeks away.
But what I don’t understand is what is the fascination with fireworks here in Alaska when it is still light outside most of the night? It is a little hard to see all the colors and spectacular displays when at midnight it’s still light enough to play a round of golf.
Last year my daughter, Nicole and I were up here finalizing the purchase of our house and we headed to a Fourth of July event in Anchorage. They had all the cool food vendors (serving reindeer sausage, of course) and a live band but the fireworks show wasn’t until well after midnight. Needless to say we called it an early night at the local Holiday Inn Express and slept soundly while all the madness was going on just down the road.
Never fear, in mid August the boys that run the fireworks stands put on one heck of a show in Houston. Rumor has it it’s a “friendly” competition between the fireworks stand owners. We went last year and watched the show from the back of my pick-up truck.
At least in August dusk is at the respectable hour of about 10:15 so us old fogies didn’t have to stay out too late!
So if you are heading up the highway stop at one of these stands and buy a couple Roman Candles or a pack of Black Cats but beware most of the campgrounds do not allow them and don’t even think about taking them on the plane back to the Lower 48 the Airport Creepers will arrest you faster than you can say ooooo and ahhhhhh.
But it’s always good fun to blow up your kids action figures in the driveway or stick cherry bomb in a rotten apple.
That’s what guys do: blow S**t up!