A single incident does not a trend make.
But it was telling that a week before the 4th of July, when Michigan will no doubt be rocked by pops, blasts, explosions, screeches and whizzes from now-legal fireworks, a 38-year-old Kalamazoo woman suffered second- and third-degree burns to her face, hands, arms and torso when she leaned over a firework she lit.
It would be unfair to use a single act by someone who may have had zero experience with fireworks to damn the new law; but she did what she did. Police said they believed the firework involved was one of the more powerful types recently made legal in Michigan.
This could have happened any time in the past, of course, since Michigan residents were famous for driving to Indiana and other states and smuggling back fireworks that were illegal in Michigan.
Now, though, it seems you can't drive a mile in any direction without running into a fireworks stand selling bottle rockets, Roman candles, firecrackers, missle-type rockets, aerials, single-tube devices that boom and helicopter/aerial spinners.
The piles and piles of previously forbidden goodies spread out on tables and stacked in piles at fireworks stands may be too much for even the least-experienced of us to resist. There is no doubt that plenty of first-timers are going to buy some of the new stuff and try their hand — hopefully without blowing it off.
And don't believe the baloney that the new stuff is just a difference in degree from what had been legal or that it's — insert laugh line here — safer. Michigan had one of the most restrictive fireworks laws in the country; essentially anything that made a loud noise or was fun to set off was banned. The new stuff is plenty powerful and can do real damage to humans, pets and buildings. They can start fires in a field or on the roof of the neighbor's garage, they can take a finger or an eye, they can cause severe burns.
There are plenty of restrictions, but they work only if people know about them and enforce them.
Here are some:
n You have to be 18 or older to buy.
n Traverse City prohibits aerial fireworks in the city's parks, on city beaches and other public lands.
n State law prohibits individuals from setting off fireworks on public property, school property, church property, or another person's property without that organization's or individual's express permission.
n State law also prohibits a person from using fireworks while under the influence of alcohol.
n Traverse City police will continue to respond to noise complaints anywhere in the city if violations of city noise ordinances are reported.
With the Fourth of July just five days away and the National Cherry Festival starting a week from tomorrow, expect to hear and see lots of bigger, louder and more dangerous fireworks than ever before in the coming days.
Don't get hurt, and don't let your kids play with fireworks they're not prepared to handle. This is supposed to be a holiday celebration, not a run to the emergency room.