Is there any way to play with fireworks in Pittsburgh?
July 1, 2004 4:30 PM   Subscribe

So... no fireworks in Pennsylvania... I'm in Pittsburgh over the 4th of July and illegal fireworks are new to me. How strictly is the ban enforced? Are there any permitted fireworks, ie sparklers. Any strategies for coping?

Re: coping... anyone from the area know some good parks near the Sq.Hill/Shadyside area that have public grills for a barbeque? Or is that illegal too?
posted by Jeff Howard to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Fireworks are illegal in California, too. Doesn't mean there aren't fireworks shows. Buck up, little camper!
posted by LionIndex at 4:36 PM on July 1, 2004

"Fireworks are illegal" usually means "fireworks are illegal except for sanctioned shows put on by the various municipalities." There will be fireworks, in other words.
posted by kindall at 5:19 PM on July 1, 2004

All fireworks are illegal in the City of Baltimore. I just moved here, so I don't know how strictly the ban will be enforced, but I'm guessing not too--the po-leece have bigger fish to fry. I've already seen a lot of high-flying little sparklies in my neighborhood and the ban won't stop me from setting off a bunch more (big) bottle rockets come the weekend. I'm guessing with a little subtlety in your fireworking you'll be okay. You might have to go to Ohio to get them, I guess.
posted by maniactown at 5:49 PM on July 1, 2004

I get the feeling that Mr. Howard wants to celebrate the independence of our nation by personally blowing up a small part of it — not just watch it happen from a safe distance.

I did, in fact, spend one fourth of July at my then-GF's family's barbeque outside of Johnstown. I can tell you that (a) they had sparklers & cherry bombs in abundance, and (b) if this particular family could have set fireworks off, they probably would have. (Of course, they didn't live all that near the state line, so YMMV.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:53 PM on July 1, 2004

Fireworks are illegal here in Illinois (Chicago, specifically) but there are depots set up just across the border in Wisconsin to cater to patriotic pyromaniacs.

And so there are all sorts of amateur fireworks displays in Chicago. When I was growing up, our neighbor used to put on an excellent show - it was really cool. Especially given the contraband thrill of it all.

I found out later that he'd greased the palms of the local cops so they'd look the other way. My first lesson in Chicago politics.
posted by aladfar at 6:18 PM on July 1, 2004

I didn't realize how nearby you are, Jeff Howard. Sometimes I wonder if we really ought to get a Pittsburgh gathering.

::long pause::

Anyway, one of these "fireworks depots" exists in Erie, PA, right off of Exit #9 (I-90), which leads to PSU-Erie. Fireworks of all kinds. Unfortunately, I believe you need to have an out-of-state DL. Something similar might exist in Morgantown, WV as well.
posted by BlueTrain at 6:30 PM on July 1, 2004

I think al lot of it depends on the people around when you set them off. Cops won't come looking for you but they will respond to a complaint.

When I was in my late teens my friends and I would pull our money, cross the border, falsefy documents and then come back and set off a show.

Cops only showed up one year and they implied that here was not a good place but the park over the hill was full of people setting 'em off and they hadn't had a call yet.
posted by Mick at 6:33 PM on July 1, 2004

They're illegal in Iowa as well, and most of the time we just head to South Dakota (warehouses right accross the border, can't beat that).

The nice thing about zillions of square miles of rural wasteland is that you can drive around until the sun comes up, stopping to shoot off about 200 bottle rockets in a sitting every half hour or so, and you'll never have a problem with the law.

(Okay, closer to about twenty each time, plus the roman candles, and whatever else we fit into two duffel bags' worth of fireworks)
posted by angry modem at 7:59 PM on July 1, 2004

Fireworks are not illegal in California, LionIndex. "Safe and sane" fireworks are legally permitted in any city which does not specifically ban them, or the county for unincorporated areas only.

Like with all "questionable" activity, the best thing to do is to be discreet. If the neighbors call the cops on you because they're being annoyed, and the cops show up, and you have illegal fireworks, you WILL be cited. But the cost of the ticket is lower than that of a speeding ticket if you plead guilty, (in CA $100 for first offenders), and almost everyone speeds at one time or another.
posted by calwatch at 8:19 PM on July 1, 2004

They're illegal in Milwaukee, but I've found places in the city that sell them. The trick is to not do it to close to cops.
posted by drezdn at 10:50 PM on July 1, 2004

There are fireworks, then there are Fireworks. Only place I ever saw the Real Thing being sold was in Missouri. Genuine shells, not those silly-but-fun bottle rockets and other rockets, nor sparklers. The kind you light and drop in a tube (ie, mortars). They explode in the tube and that launches them.

But take care if things are dry. The simplest little thing can set off a grass fire if its dry. I learned that on Fire Island one summer. Fortunatly, the fire was small enough to put out with my feet.
posted by Goofyy at 1:04 AM on July 2, 2004

But take care if things are dry.

Word. Back in the day, a friend of mine was shooting off fireworks and one of them ended up in his back yard. Him and his friends thought it was a dud and thought nothing of it. A couple minutes later, the firefighters were called on the scene with a nice blaze in his backyard...
posted by jmd82 at 1:14 AM on July 2, 2004

For any fireworks you're likely to buy your biggest threat is your neighbour. If your fireworks piss off your neighbour he will call the cops. Since you're doing something illegal the cops will be happy to take your hard earned money and spoil your fun.

That's the problem we had when I was a kid. My friends new neighbour didn't like amateur pyrotechnics (read homebrewed) as much as the old neighbour did. He'd call the cops. Every time. After the third or fourth time hiding out from the police we learned our lesson and moved our illegal activities.
posted by substrate at 5:41 AM on July 2, 2004

Here in Indiana, you can buy fireworks, as long as you sign a waiver saying you're going to take them out of state to use them. Yeah, right. I'm sure you can imagine how many people actually do that. What do you expect from a state where a bill essentially setting pi to 3.2 passed one house of the legislature?

As to the original question, it appears sparklers are OK in Pennsylvania: this was the fifth hit in a Google search on "Pennsylvania fireworks law."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:26 AM on July 2, 2004

I was just in Pittsburgh (well, Delmont) last weekend and I saw several roadside stands brazenly hawking their wares. It looked like the full range of rockets and exploding things. Maybe once you get into the rural areas they are easier to find.
posted by milovoo at 7:41 AM on July 2, 2004

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