A Fourth of July in Pittsburgh, PA

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I’ve been staying with an old high school friend and fellow former-skater, who goes by the name “Flood.” The origins of the name are innocent enough, however he’s taken the name to a new level over the years. Suffice to say, he’s the type of guy that when he does something, he does it to the maximum amount allowable by his level of intoxication.

For example, he’s the type of guy to jump on a snowboard and start hitting giant launches with the pros, only to land on his ass and break his tailbone. He’s been hit by an SUV going 45 while he was simply skating down the street and survived, a few torn ligaments and some hospital time, but the SUV was literally way worse.

So living with him is a trip. We’ll go out and have a blast on the town, staying up until 6am at after hours bars or just his house, and lo and behold, when noon comes around he’s awake and asking me when I’ll be ready to go back at it. We’re the same age, but his full fire spirit is still stuck in the teenage years, I do believe at times.

So when he invited me to attend a Fourth of July celebration with him and his crew, I had no idea what to expect. On the 3rd we drove from Pittsburgh to Ohio, a state more willing to legally sell fireworks than our own beloved PA. The fireworks superstore was packed, there was a line 100 deep, everyone in Steelers and Penguins jerseys, just to get into the place. Four state troopers patrolled the parking lots, making sure no one was smoking or carrying lighters into the explosive-ridden building. By the time we came out, he had $400 worth of fireworks in a box that could barely fit into the back of his Pathfinder.

Arriving at the party, I found the 10 people already there were 10 other versions of Flood, all ready to go full steem ahead into the night, no matter how many PBRs it would take. Before the night was over, we’d roasted an entire pig, crushed a coffin-sized cooler worth of alcoholic tastiness, and at one point almost lit a family on fire. After receiving multiple complaints from people at Schenley Park (where we went to shoot off the fireworks), one of the people in our group decided that if we couldn’t shoot the fireworks off, he was just going to light the whole box on fire.

Everyone casually walked away from the park as hundreds of mortars, bottle rockets, and roman candles all whizzed and banged into the air, through the trees and over our heads.