Set it off 

Does it have to do with family, food or fireworks? My bet is that it involves at least one of those three, and maybe all of them.

For me, the most memorable Independence Days have involved fireworks.

When I was about 10, I clearly remember my two older, ornery cousins wearing blue-and-white-striped denim shorts and red, V-neck shirts with a little pocket on the front.

One cousin carried a pack of Black Cats in his shirt pocket, and the other saw this as an opportunity to tease him about lighting the pack.

In the middle of him teasing and waving a flame near the fuse … well, you can guess where this is going: One of my cousins ended up with a pocket-less shirt. Well, actually, he ended up without much of a shirt altogether.

Thankfully, no one got hurt. It’s even a little funny now. But the antics cast a bit of a pall over the festivities, because someone easily could have gotten badly burned.

Don’t be that guy or girl. In case you need a refresher course on firework safety, Integris Health has you covered. Get a list of safety tips at integrisok. com/news/

AJ’s Firework Inc. (151 W. Waterloo, Edmond; 359-7277) can get you set with Black Cats to Roman candles, as long as they stay out of your pockets.

Speaking of Roman candles, my dad would never let me hold one to shoot it off, although all my friends were allowed. I was stuck wedging it between two cinder blocks. (But you know what? I have all my fingers! Thanks, Dad!) This applies to all of you: Don’t light or hold a lit firework in your hand (unless it’s a sparkler).

Speaking of sparklers, you can get some at Fireworks Warehouse OKC (3001 N.E. 50th; 979-885-3365). Like its Facebook page for weekly specials.

Not all my fireworks memories are near-death experiences. In fact, the most prominent was also the loveliest. Several years back, my family got together for hot dogs, hamburgers and 14 flavors of homemade ice cream (jealous?). When it got dark, my uncle surprised us with what seemed like an endless supply of fireworks. I’d never seen so many outside a fireworks stand.

Each of us set up his or her own mini-fireworks displays — abiding by all the proper safety precautions — and the night was enjoyable and lively, with bursts of color from the 20-plus rockets we set off that night.

If you need some rockets to create your own display, TNT Fireworks in Valley Brook (1618 S.E. 59th) has everything from screaming rattlers to clustering bees rockets.

Fireworks are fun and pretty, but remember to stay safe while enjoying the holiday.

And remember that the sale, possession and discharge of fireworks are illegal in many metro municipalities, including Oklahoma City.

Make happy memories, not scary ones. Let’s shop, OKC!

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