It's late in June, just a bit less than a week before Independence Day, and those late night fireworks, firecrackers, and bottle rockets already started in my neighborhood right around June 1st. I would be surprised if your neighborhood was any different than mine.

My neighborhood normally starts to get loud at night about 2 weeks before July 4th. I've determined that my neighbors who headed up to Beloit to buy fireworks get so excited about what they've bought, they have to start shooting them off before their big backyard show on July 4th just to make sure they've got their angles right. Starting as early as they did this year must mean they're really excited.

Or, they've been drinking and have their dates mixed up.

3D image showing a box of firecracker type fireworks.
From this...(Getty Images)
Remains of firework box still on fire after firework explosions this. (Getty Images)

It's Like Moving To The Sunbelt When You Retire--Going To Beloit For Fireworks Every Year Is Just What You Do When You Live In Northern Illinois

Here's a little sample of an exchange between several of my coworkers when we were discussing the upcoming 4th of July holiday this morning:

Coworker #1: So, you having a big fireworks show at your house?

Coworker #2: I don't want to, but my significant other and his brother went up to Brodhead last week and stocked up. They can do what they want, but I'm not getting arrested for it. I'll be in the house if the cops show up.

Coworker #3: Can't you get a pretty big fine for shooting off fireworks?

Coworker #4 Yeah, like 2000 bucks or something. It sucks, because every time I cross the border, there are about a gajillion signs advertising fireworks. It's hard to just drive by and not buy some.

Coworker #1: So, you bought some.

Coworker #4: About a thousand dollars worth, yeah.

Because it's just what you do.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Illinois Is Not The Most Restrictive State In The Union When It Comes To Fireworks, But We're Among The Most Restrictive

While Illinois doesn't have the most restrictive laws on fireworks (that distinction goes to Massachusetts, where all consumer fireworks are banned except for professional shows), we're one of 3 states where very limited types of fireworks are okay, but going beyond that will potentially cause some trouble between you and law enforcement.

Illinois, Ohio, and Vermont allow residents to enjoy wire or wood stick sparklers, along with some things that are called "novelty items." Ohio did just recently pass a bill that aims to "loosen up" their fireworks laws.

Here in Illinois, we have something called The Pyrotechnic Use Act (PUA), which, according to"bans the sale, possession, and use of all 'consumer fireworks.' That’s the stuff you can buy legally in some states, like firecrackers, bottle rockets, and roman candles. Violating the PUA can result in up to 1 year in prison and a $2500 fine."

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

Let's Break It Down Between Legal And Illegal Fireworks In Illinois

According to the The Pyrotechnic Use Act (PUA), here's what's legal in Illinois:

  • Sparklers
  • Some small-cap guns
  • Snake or glow worm pellets
  • Smoke devices
  • Trick noisemakers (known as party poppers)
  • Booby traps
  • Snappers
  • Trick matches
  • Cigarette loads

There might be more, but that's all I could find in the "what's legal" column.

Illinois Policy Institute points out the irony in Illinois' ban on bottle rockets, but acceptance of sparklers:

Nationwide, there were 10,000 fireworks injuries requiring a trip to the emergency room in 2019, with sparklers causing 2.25 times as many injuries as bottle rockets. Illinois allows sparklers but bans bottle rockets.

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