Last year, then-Gov. Chris Christie took a stand and signed a bill allowing anyone old enough to have a learner’s permit to twirl around with a sparkler if they so choose, taking New Jersey off the short list of states with blanket bans on fireworks. (Massachusetts now stands alone.)
Signed at the end of last June, the bill legalized “non-explosive, non-aerial” fireworks such as sparklers and party poppers. While shopping the selection of legal “fireworks” was overwhelmingly anti-climatic, setting them off was not as boring as “sparklers” and “party poppers” might sound.
We wanted to get a little bit of everything so we would be ready to show off to our friends and family on July Fourth just how cool New Jersey’s somewhat-new fireworks law is.
Choosing which fireworks to get is harder than it sounds. While you know that at the end of the day they practically all do the same thing (make sparks, create some noise, maybe change colors), the bright packaging with eye-catching images makes choosing a tad harder.
They had the classic pyro toys like sparklers (including neon ones!), snappers, smoke grenades, fountains, as well as small fireworks that don’t do all that much, like snakes in the grass, jumping jacks and something called a “gyro bloom.”
You can buy these in jumbo sets that can cost hundreds of dollars, but you can also buy them individually. We paid $66 for nearly 20 individual packages.
So where do you shoot off fireworks on a random Wednesday in June?
We have all been there before. Quietly sitting in our homes, minding our own business, when a neighbor, usually the one who doesn’t politely wave back when you pass each other, is back at it again, obnoxiously shooting off fireworks to celebrate nothing.
I didn’t want to be that guy, but as you lug around a bag of quasi-explosive devices in a crowded urban area like Jersey City, you are bound to be that guy.
I only got thrown off of one public basketball court shortly before its closing time of 10 p.m. during my endeavor. I probably should not have thrown that smoke grenade that seemed to contain unlimited smoke as it slowly invaded a residential street.
For the grand finale (and some others), we eventually settled for a vacant parking lot and surely only ruined a couple dozen people’s nights.
You light it, and it sparkles for a little while. Give it a few twirls for fun!
One of the classics. It was not adequately explained to me why these were Halloween-themed, but they still do the same thing. Take a snapper, throw it at the ground, and — surprise! — it snaps. When I was younger and thought I was cool (I wasn’t), I would put one in between my fingers and snap it. Or just throw them as close to my brother’s feet as possible. The warnings about these are clear: You should NOT do either of those things.
This may have the look of a firecracker, but don’t freak out. It has nowhere near the intensity of a firecracker. It doesn’t have the same pop as one, and all it really does is spin around for like three seconds and spark off various colors.
Snakes in the Grass
Like the Jumping Jack, the Snakes in the Grass doesn’t last long, but it “emits showers of sparks” as five “snakes” emerge from the concoction.
No loud noises or flashy sparks. The smoke grenade is all business, and as I learned the hard way, the $5.99 gadget lets off a hefty stream of smoke.
This is the grandaddy of legal New Jersey fireworks. It is the closest we can get to shooting a real firework off ourselves. The one we tried put on quite the show.The $20 fountain lasted around two-and-half minutes. And let me tell you, when you are playing with fireworks in a residential area on a random Wednesday, that is a long two-and-a-half minutes.
In between frantically wondering how annoying I was being to the poor neighbors, I actually enjoyed the fountain. The Phantom Fireworks website describes what the fountain does as spouting out “lemon-yellow pearls, multi-color chrysanthemums and a crackling finale.” It is really loud during the crackle.
In all seriousness, these fireworks still reach extreme temperatures and need to be treated with precaution. Make sure to read the instructions on each one before using, and do not set off fireworks or throw a smoke grenade at Sgt. Anthony Park in Jersey City at 9:55 p.m. on a Wednesday.
What fireworks are still illegal?
The fireworks that you love to see as they shoot into the sky and boom with bright colors? Yes, those are still illegal. You cannot buy, sell or use fireworks like bottle rockets, firecrackers, “Roman candles” or any aerial firework in New Jersey.
Also, the select fireworks that were legalized last year are still illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to buy or use.