When I was growing up there were fireworks stands everywhere in the Seattle area. About 30 miles north and south of Seattle you can also go to an Indian reservation and buy "illegal" fireworks that you could not buy at your local firework stand. Where I lived in the suburbs you could drive 10 minutes and be on the Muckleshoot reservation. There we could get bottle rockets, firecrackers, and mortar shells. There were things that were illegal even for the Indians like M-100s or tennis balls filled with gunpowder and a fuse if you knew where to look and who to ask and did not look like a cop. The theory was that all of the fireworks bought on the reservation needed to be used on the reservation. Our neighborhood would pool our money and have a big party with some safe and sane (we must have done twenty flowers in our driveway with the marks lasting for a month along with things like sparklers, snakes, piccolo petes, etc.), mostly bought at our church’s local fireworks stand and those from the reservation. The cool thing is when we were done with ours we could look across the valley and watch what was going on on the reservation itself which was like its own "big city show". Many years we had our party on the 3rd. Our town had a firework festival for a few years but it got too crazy in the city park with the illegal fireworks. I remember people would be lighting off bottle rockets next to their picnic blanket. It seemed almost like a war zone so the city stopped having a show. A few years latter the state laws changed and many things on the reservation were now at the local stands. I think that only lasted on 4th and many cities started to ban sales or limit use. Seattle was one of the cities to ban the sale outright and my home town was quick to follow.
As a little kid I wanted to grow up to be a pyro-technician. I thought it was the coolest thing when before we ever visited the reservation for bigger and better fireworks my dad would get his pliers and put a crimp in a piccolo pete and instead of just whistling it would whistle quickly and then go up with a bang. We could spend hours just lighting off black cats and throwing them up in the air. My brothers and I would take a PVC pipe to launch bottle rockets up in or to hold roman candles. When we had to do a science project in ninth grade I made sparklers. It was really cool to be able to take a whole class outside in junior high and show how easy it was to make a sparkler.
Going places like Disneyland or World is great because you get to watch fireworks. In fact a few years ago I was in Paris by myself on July 4th and I went down to EuroDisney just so I could see some fireworks on July 4th.
In Seattle about every 10 years we get a nice 4th. If not it is just cold and might even rain. The running joke is that the weather never gets nice until July 5th. You become accustom at some level of just watching the fireworks show on TV. Even though tonight was one of those nice weather years (other than the thunderstorms at about 6 pm) I stayed home because this was my first year in a new neighborhood and I want to see just how crazy or safe it is. The verdict on that is that despite the ban of firework sale in Seattle here in Madison Valley there are is a good mix of explosions and flashes going off. As fireworks shows go I think the Lake Union show sponsored by Washington Mutual was the best. They always have music that is not all traditional and they have a diverse set of things in the display. I think that they just did beat out the Ivar’s sponsored show from Elliot Bay which is always traditional and full of great explosions. KING 5 had the Lake Union show and the sound was not good at all. I also hate that they spend a lot of time with people just clowning around. KOMO 4 did Ivar’s and they did a much better job. They also showed "Thunder on the Bay" with part of the show from Everett. It looked good and they had the Everett symphony playing live in the background. Additionally they showed the fireworks on Commencement Bay in Tacoma. This looked like a really great show. The problem was that they only had one camera and so there was too much of moving of the camera and zooming in and out. They said that the fair that Tacoma puts on is supposed to be top 10 in the country. I wish we could have gotten a better showing of that show because it looked really good.