Fireworks Ban? Try These Fourth Of July Alternatives

fireworks ban
Ming Xia, Flickr

With fireworks bans in place across parts of the Western U.S., it’s going to be another Fourth of July calling for alternative celebratory activities. In Colorado, where I live, we’ve learned to accept this fact, and it doesn’t stop the outdoor revelry.

Picnics and parades are standard July fourth fare, anyway, so if you happen to live in a place suffering from drought or plagued by wildfires, don’t let the lack of fireworks get you down. Instead, find a spark-free way to celebrate our nation’s birth (it also makes for a nice tribute to those victimized by said wildfires). Some suggestions:

Open flame isn’t required for a successful barbecue; use a gas grill instead.

Gather a group for a moonlight hike (this is also a good idea with regard to personal and wildlife safety). Sunset city walks are also fun; end your stroll at a wine bar or brew pub.

Get on the water. Find your nearest reservoir, lake or river, and spend the holiday appreciating this precious resource.

Ride a bike. In Boulder, where I live, Awe-struck Outdoors offers activities like creekside rides that include a bike-to-farm dinner. Get inspired, and organize your own holiday ride.

Memorial Day barbecue problems? Call the Weber Grill hot line

Memorial DayThis Memorial Day weekend, I’m honoring our fallen heroes by exalting the art of grilling. Being a good grill master is how the average American male proves his manhood (in public, that is). Never mind that plenty of women can and do wield the tongs in the family (I do); being unable to operate a barbecue and produce an edible–if not outright delicious–end result is about as emasculating as it gets.

That is why I’m telling you about the Weber Grill hot line (1-800-GRILL-OUT, or email grillout@weber.com). The New York Times reports that the Schaumburg, Illinois-based company receives about 500,000 calls (mostly from men) a year and 75,000 e-mails. Operators–including Ms. Olsen, a 67-year old woman who’s been on the job for 14 years–deal with frantic issues related to everything from improper flaming to how to cook a squirrel.

Memorial Day is the busiest time of the year, but Weber wants people who sell their products to know what exactly they’re dealing with. The Grill Academy opened in Schaumburg in January, in order to educate salespeople about the care and feeding of Weber grills.. According to school director Kevin Kolman, students need to study hard, so they can answer questions such as, “What is the definition of a flavorizer bar?’ or ‘What is the importance of a damper system in a charcoal grill?”

Tough stuff. So should you find yourself slaving over a hot grill this weekend, and things aren’t going as they should, give Ms. Olsen a ring. Or allow your girlfriend or wife to take over.

[Photo credit: Flickr user rachelandrew]

Check out a clip from the UK Weber Grill Academy.


When barbecues attack: Memorial Day disasters to avoid

If you’ve ever barbecued, odds are you’ve experienced one of the following: eyebrow/hair singing; lighter fluid Molotov cocktail; medium-rare chicken. Don’t feel bad. The folks at Eater National have compiled a highly entertaining (but flame-retardant) series of video clips entitled, “You’re Grilling That Wrong: The Ten Best Barbecue Disaster Videos” from across the country.

Have a safe, happy Memorial Day weekend!



Preparing and Light Propane and Charcoal Grills