Friday, July 02, 2010
This enormous tent sits on land less than a mile from my home. The tent is so large it could hold at least a couple hundred people, and it probably does hold that many each day, though not all at the same time. This particular tent was not erected as a place for people to congregate for singing and praise and worship and praying to God in Heaven for peace on planet Earth. This tent is all about hellfire and brimstone of the man-made kind.
It's a fireworks tent.
Someone "revives" it twice a year, a couple of weeks before the 4th of July, then again right before the Christmas/New Year's holidays. The only thing I can think of that it has in common with a religious revival tent (other than its exterior appearance) is that both have a pretty strong focus on bringing in some big bucks in a short period of time.
I've digitally doctored the photograph of the tent to make it "more pleasing to the eye." In the original picture, as in real life, the unadorned, white tent offers a visual field of serenity that belies the nearby presence of utility poles and lines, vehicles headed in three different directions, golden arches, and all the other ugly signs of life near a heavily trafficked intersection.
Another tent, smaller but more flamboyant, sits cater-cornered across the road from the one pictured. It's an open-sided canvas construction, with lots of giant, boldly colored banners waving to distract drivers and advertise the rockets and bombs for sale inside.
Twice a year, these tents and their contents wreak havoc on us. I've posted before about my dogs’ fears of fireworks. It breaks my heart to see them so frightened, and every year my anger grows that parish officials won't ban the sale and use of fireworks in this area. They're banned in nearby Baton Rouge and in the small town on the other side of us, but if my closer neighbors want to show off their hosting abilities, they can offer more than hotdogs and potato salad: They can provide explosives!
I heard the first "pop" this afternoon. The noise always starts before the actual holiday and ends days afterward, and all it takes is one loud bang to ruin an entire day. Butch and Kadi know from experience that one explosion is usually followed by others, so if they hear the last one near midnight, I might be able to get them to go outside again by three or four in the morning.
Obviously, these tents wouldn't be erected if there wasn't a market for fireworks, but it bothers me that there doesn't seem to be much regulation of when and how they're used. It would be tolerable if fireworks were permitted for an hour or two on a designated day. That would probably feel more like a celebration, too. I'm just not buying the idea that all the folks who live in the unincorporated areas of our parish are happy about the loud noises, not to mention the fiery sparks flying over our rooftops at random times over a two-week period. It's a bit much.
I wish they'd put it to a vote, but that isn't likely, so I'll just do what I do every time those tents go up: I'll fervently hope for rain.