South Seattle Neighbors Sound Off: Fireworks in the ‘Hood

South Seattle Neighbors Sound Off: Fireworks in the ‘Hood

What do you think? Are the homegrown fireworks displays fun and patriotic, just an annoyance or worse?

Tiffany: HATE the illegal fireworks. I’m a bit of a pyrophobe when it comes to uncontrolled explosives in the hands of halfwits. I’m the person watering down the lawn and hoping the house doesn’t burn. It’s really nerve-wracking. I wish the SPD would put at least some minimal effort into enforcement. Everyone knows there will be absolutely no repercussions. If there was even the *slightest* chance that there could be repercussions it would keep a percentage of people from doing it at all. Ugh.

Tom T: Aren’t fireworks considering illegal burning? I bet SFD would be happy to help here.

Tess McGee: So, we’ll be getting out of town tomorrow night, New Year’s Eve, to keep the dogs from getting sick with nerves and worry over fireworks. I continue to wonder why M80s and firecrackers fascinate so many people. I myself enjoy a good fireworks show, but why our neighborhood likes and puts up with the hours and hours of constant booms is beyond me. Aren’t these things expensive? Not to mention illegal. People in my neighborhood were setting off firecrackers the minute it got dark on Christmas Day.

Of course, New Year’s is nothing compared to the Fourth of July. It starts in late June and continues until September. We have to leave town for the week of the fourth. It’s not just my dogs that are driven to sickness over this, many people have pets who suffer. And plenty of people don’t like the noise, either.

Why is it that some people see this expression of their “freedom” their god-given right, when it obviously diminishes the freedom of others? Why can’t people limit their noisy, illegal celebrations to the two holidays when a few areas allow it? (Fireworks are illegal all the day so of the year in the city of Seattle.) Aren’t these things expensive? Are you a parent who encourages/allows your kids to buy box-loads of firecrackers and shoot them off for weeks on end? If so, WHY? Do you care at all about your neighbors? And neighbors who don’t like it, why don’t you say something? Or call the police? I know our last mayor said not to and held the opinion that people just need to be responsible with fireworks. Well, that might work in HIS neighborhood, but obviously not in south Seattle.

One night, a week before July 4, three teenage boys staged a battle on our street, running through front yards shooting fireworks at each other at 2 a.m. The police took the call but no one ever showed up. The next day we shoveled two wheelbarrows full of spent fireworks, plus trashed an entire case of unused ones left behind.

I think Rainier Valley has made strides in improving neighborhoods and in developing a sense of community, but this is one area that has a very long way to go. I expect to move out of this area (a few years to go) before any headway is made. I don’t have much hope and even less compassion for fireworks fanatics. I just wanted to say my piece.

Whitney: I know a noise complaint isn’t priority, but I feel like our neighborhood is not getting assistance because their are worse things going on. That’s true, but we are provided less service because of it. Extremely explosive fireworks are a regular part of our reality (better than gunshots, I suppose), but there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about any of it. I am feeling there are greener pastures for my family in another neighborhood, but am bound by economics and a less than balanced housing market. I can only imagine how people living in poverty feel.

Brian: I remember when I was little, the day after the 4th Mom would tell us to go outside and pick up firework trash. I sure hated it as a kid–it didn’t seem right after celebrating all that independence stuff to have to pick up your own garbage, but it was a good lesson. Plus, us kids would usually discover some fireworks that others had tried to light that didn’t go off, and being on pretty meager allowances, a find like that was a real find! “Wow, a Whistling Pete, and it still has half of it’s fuse!”

CBO: I have noticed that my neighbors with the least amount of disposable income had the most fireworks.

Sefue: I wish the people who were so ‘generous’ about sharing their illegal fireworks with their neighbors last night were less ‘generous’ about sharing their firework trash. Seriously, folk, please clean up after yourselves. This trash gets washed into the storm drain system and just overall makes the place look like…well…trash. If I were more confrontational, I’d pick it up myself and dump it on their lawn – not that they’d understand anything other than I was being a jerk. Sigh.

Susan H: I like the fireworks. I find it comforting to tell myself at each big bang, “don’t worry, it’s just fireworks!”

belfire: I don’t have a problem with 4 days of Blue Angels, but I do have strong feelings about the pervasive fireworks that go on for weeks. Why is the fireworks ban Not Enforced At All?? On the fourth, the Rainier Valley is a war zone with large groups lighting explosives in the middle of the street everywhere. The noise and smoke is tremendous. I’ve already heard a lot of fireworks and I know it will continue into August, raising nerves when people think it’s gunshots.

Carol: I’m dreading the impending craziness of 4th of July fireworks, Seafair and blue angels. Not to sound like a flag burning communist or anything, but I’d rather celebrate with a giant picnic and a contra dance at Atlantic Park. Now that would be some traditional fun!

Luigia: Fireworks at Genesee. Woke me up, too. Tired all day. How good it would be to know where they were sleeping it off this morning… I’d like to return the favor.

Dan: I’m surprised every year by how close to cars and homes people shoot fireworks in New Holly on July 4th. I guess I would expect more of a police presence in the area.

Melody Grieves: I blame our lawmakers. Passing laws/restrictions they know full well people will totally ignore, never intending to enforce them in the first place. My neighborhood is adjacent to Skyway, which is still unincorporated King County. Lots of fireworks sales booths. People come from all over to buy the stuff there. My neighborhood is a war zone for several weeks running. I have to take my dog out of town for the worst of it. This is not personal freedom. This is giving people the right to terrorize neighbors, all so a small segment of our society can make some money. Since Skyway seems to be the dumping ground for all sorts of things by the King County Council, there appears to be no hope for improvement for Skyway or communities surrounding it. King County Council, in a word, sucks. And there are way too many irresponsible parents who seem not to have money to properly clothe, feed, and educate their kids, but can find money each year to spend on fireworks. It’s certainly not our society’s shining moment. So sad, especially on the birthday of our country.

sandsnowdirt: I went to the store today and my favorite clerk noted that on S. Orcas, the people with the least amount of money in general seemed to have the most money to spend on fireworks.

Mark B: We do not have enough police the other 364 days out of the year, so unless the city wants to use the 4th as one of it’s “revenue enhancement” plans I do not see where we have enough officers for fireworks patrol. Then add in the umpteen thousand people who can’t distinguish between a gunshot and a firecracker and the police are really busy.

Tiffany: Yeah — not sure why the police don’t do anything about the people shooting what appear to be close to professional-grade fireworks. It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.

musicanimal: “fireworks are illegal in the City of Seattle” what a laugh that is. I wonder where the cops are hiding when this is all going on?

erich: Personally, I don’t mind. 2 nights each year (July 4th and New Year’s – well, maybe 3 nights with Lunar New Year) the place sounds like a war zone. But it is fun to watch from the window.

Maybe if the city encouraged ‘neighborhood shows’, meeting places for lighting them off, we could minimize the mess-factor. If you make it against the law, people are just going to go wherever. If you say “Hey, be a neighborhood fireworks captain! Get your neighbors together and create your own show, just have a bucket of water and first aid training,” then maybe it will be a little more organized.

Yasefue: Seriously. I don’t mind the sparkly fireworks, but I am sooo tired of the firecrackers. We had some that sounded more like pipebombs – and of course, the neighbor couldn’t be bothered to pick up their trash afterwards either.

dkl: I recall a 4th about 5 years ago that we were returning from a friends condo on CapHill and coming down MLK when we entered a WAR ZONE! Two in fact, the first was at Powell-Barnett where we had bottle rockets and fire crackers thrown into the sunroof of our car and aimed at our open windows. The next zone was at Sam Smith. Same thing took place, us and other cars in front and behind were targets for the fireworks. Kids of all ages, 6 years and up were throwing things and what not. The following year we experienced the same thing and then decided to take alternative routes to home.

Real Rainier Valley Girl: Saw a used bottle rocket on the dried grass at Genesee Park near the area that the Parks Department is returning to its original natural state. Thirty feet more east and you would have turned the reforestation area into a burnt-out shell. WTF, man? Destroying the park with your reckless and illegal activity would have been a tragedy. Burning down your own house because you like blowing stuff up would have been cause-and-effect.

Susan: I’m getting to the point where I dread the 4th of July, honestly. If the noise would stop at midnight, I’d be okay with it, but 4 a.m., and the fireworks are still going? (and not just on the 4th) It’s not fun anymore.

Rachelle: There are many (many!) people out there who have children of all ages with sensory disorders and disabilities. As the step parent of a special needs, non-verbal child with profound Autism, I am quite familiar with kids who have complete freak outs over loud, unpredictable noises (or just certain noises) that they don’t understand and cannot comprehend explanation of.

It’s more common than anyone thinks, especially when you are one of those parents whose kids don’t get to go out much in public because of their disabilities because they can’t handle being out. These often unseen young citizens are often overlooked because they’re not out there publicly voicing complaints – it’s not obvious to the rest if the world that they’re in the community sometimes, since they have to stay home in their “comfort zones” and rarely leave the house.

Things like ongoing fireworks (or gunshots) can cause a child with a sensory disorder or Autism to have a complete melt down, tear apart the house, break and destroy things, try to hurt themselves, bang their heads against walls, go on a shrieking fit for several hours into the night, soil themselves repeatedly, not sleep for days, refuse to eat, etc.

And not everyone has the logistic or financial means to simply avoid being home or go camping, take a vacation or road trip, and so forth. If you have ever tried to take a reluctant, 6-foot-tall, teenaged Autistic kid somewhere where he does not want to go, you may meet resistance in the form of kicking, biting, shrieking, pinching, and other intolerable outbursts that are difficult (nearly impossible) to manage in a calm way.

So there’s that. It’s more than just an inconvenience an annoyance (although there’s plenty of that, too). It really affects some of our most vulnerable citizens on a very deep and damaging level, and many people just don’t care or realize it.

SolvayGirl: As for the noise… I have a golden retriever who, luckily, was bred to tolerate loud bangs. I wasn’t so lucky with my previous dog who even cowered during bad thunderstorms. We tended to take her camping on the 4th. I’m glad I was not trying to get a toddler to bed before 1AM on the 5th too!

And, as others have noted, where are people getting the money for these fireworks? I’d hate to think that some kids went hungry because their parents decided to buy fireworks instead of food last week.

“He Said/She Said” highlights some of the most vigorous civil debates that take place in the GO: South Seattle (formerly RVP) Comment section. GO: South Seattle does not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.



  1. I adore the fireworks…part of the reason I live here. We did voluntarily give them up last year because of the dry weather, but since it isn’t dry this year we will be having fireworks. My kids don’t go hungry so I can buy fireworks, they save their own money to buy them for themselves. It is a fun holiday where we see a lot of people we don’t see the rest of the year at our place.

  2. Rainier Beach Resident says:

    Leave it to the professionals people! Every year our kids and pets are freaked out by all the noise, we are worried about possible fires, and fireworks trash is left everywhere. I wouldn’t mind illegal displays if people were safe and cleaned up after themselves, but that is not the case.

  3. I love fireworks, hate the pollution, the litter, and the injuries. I hate going to big fireworks displays because they are too crowded. I remember lighting snakes amd sparklers when I was younger and it was a thrill. I don’t know what to do about them, but did you know that Columbia City was home to a nationally recognized fireworks manufacturer?

  4. Fireworks are wonderful.
    So glad I live in a neighborhood where people like to get together and celebrate.
    I’m sure some people don’t enjoy this but luckily we live in a country that celebrates diversity!
    I could do with out the racism Dog Whistle in some of these comments.

  5. I was the mean mommy this year who wouldn’t let my kids even partake in sparklers from the neighbors, despite loud and bright fireworks shows by nearly every resident on our block in Rainier Beach. I strongly feel that we need to respect the laws that are in place, even if we don’t agree with them. Since I am in health care with an ER background, I also happen to feel that the Seattle ban is appropriate given the inevitable healthcare consequences of widespread fireworks use. As to comments about the relative incomes of those who buy, that is their personal choice and not for me to judge how they spend their money. When it starts personally affecting me by potentially stealing my home from me through fire, and most definitely stealing my sleep, I get really angry at the flaunting of the laws and the lack of enforcement. How about allowing people to report (with photographic evidence) illegal fireworks use with tickets being mailed to them later?

  6. It’s the 4:00 AM fireworks crowd that kind of angers me. Every time you are just about to get back to sleep.
    Boom! Friggin’ jackhats.


    I live on Rainier Avenue in the 8200 block and we are still hearing fireworks going off, especially on weekends. Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s gun shots or fireworks. And it’s East of here so it’s hard to see who is doing it. This is my first year living in this neighborhood but I can tell no one seems to do anything about it. Fireworks started around the 1st and seem to not end as of the end of the 24th.