A South Dakota Fourth of July

If you were to search this site’s archives, you would find that from time to time I have written about growing up in South Dakota, and the fact that explosives played a significant role in our summer’s entertainment. So every couple of years we leave liberal, wimpy Minnesota behind–the state where our legislature debates whether citizens can be trusted with sparklers–and drive to South Dakota for an old-fashioned Fourth of July.

We didn’t arrive in time today for our town’s parade, which is a fun event much frequented by politicians. (If the stickers we saw on people’s clothes after the parade are any guide, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, who lives 15 miles or so from my home town, has nothing to worry about.) But we got here in plenty of time to do our fireworks shopping.

In South Dakota, you can buy fireworks in emporia the size of a small warehouse. Anyone who stumbles in can buy the sorts of explosives that one normally associates with municipal displays. The place where we went today isn’t just a store; it deals directly with factories in China and markets its own product line. This sign seems like an appropriate caution. The animal you see reflected in the window is a dinosaur or dragon or something by the highway:

The inside of the store:

The family that owns the business is strongly religious:

So many of the products they sell have a religious theme, like the Ten Commandments: one shell for each commandment.

Other fireworks have a South Dakota theme, like the Dakota Double. Note also Walleye World and Custer’s Last Stand. If Custer had this much gunpowder, he might have won:

It is, of course, a family business. The owner’s daughter in law is featured as the Blonde Bomber:

So the owner’s son, having assessed our needs–my brother told him that I am a “pyro,” which is not true, strictly speaking–recommended the “King of Kings” package, which is proprietary to this business and is more powerful than anything previously on the consumer market. Four reloadable mortars and 24 shells:

The proof of the pudding, of course, is in the exploding. So what does a backyard fireworks display look like in South Dakota? Bear in mind that tonight, pretty much everyone’s backyard was blowing up. Here are a few examples that my 15-year-old daughter filmed. I lit our contribution during the second half of this short video:

There were a lot of fireworks going off in our part of the lake:

This shows one of our contributions to the evening’s festivities:

So we had another fun Fourth of July in South Dakota; not only, of course, because we blew up so much gunpowder.

Not coincidentally, in South Dakota, if you buy a handgun, you don’t have to receive any special training or certification to carry it on your person in public places, either concealed or openly. If you are a citizen of South Dakota, you are presumed to be capable of handling a firearm properly. For good reason. When Minnesota comes to resemble South Dakota, we will know that the battle for freedom is being won.


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