Chianca: So what’s the deal with July Fourth?

Peter Chiana

As Peter Chianca recovers from his vacation, he offers up this Fourth of July classic from Mr. Holiday.


Dear Mr. Holiday:

Is it true that fireworks can be dangerous?

Cautious in Connecticut

Dear Cautious:

The idea that fireworks are dangerous is what we call an “urban myth,” like those rumors that everyone should be wearing seat belts and avoiding heroin. By taking a few simple precautions, we can all safely enjoy these powerful illegal explosives.

For one, you must use common sense. For instance, make sure to drink all the beer from your bottles before starting to light off bottle rockets. Or sparklers: They burn at 1,800 degrees, so before you give one to little junior, make sure to have that video camera charged up and ready to go!

It would also be helpful for you to read all the warnings on the label, presuming you read Chinese and can do so before the fuse burns down.

Dear Mr. Holiday:

Even though it was ratified on July 4, didn’t the Continental Congress actually declare our nation’s independence on July 2, with most delegates not signing it until Aug. 2?

History Buff in Hopkinton

Dear History Buff:

You call yourself a history buff; I call you a big smartypants. Don’t be surprised when you’re at your July Fourth cookout and people keep excusing themselves from conversations with you because they say they want to get seconds of the ambrosia.

The fact is, the exact dates don’t matter. What does matter is that it was so hot in Philadelphia that Thomas Jefferson had to buy an entire new set of cotton breeches, on credit.

Dear Mr. Holiday:

Do you have any advice for going to see the Boston Pops on the Fourth?

Orchestral in Ottawa

Dear Orchestral:

For one thing, to get a good seat you would have had to be at Boston’s Hatch Shell about three weeks ago, living like a vagrant off the granola left on the ground following the WBOS EarthFest. But even showing up late, you still have a shot at getting on TV if you wear something really patriotic, like an American flag tube top. Make sure to jump up and down a lot.

The other important thing to remember is to bring a pinhole camera made out of a cardboard box, which is one of the only safe ways to view Keith Lockhart’s teeth.

Dear Mr. Holiday:

What do you suppose the Founding Fathers would think about me spending my Fourth of July watching the “Transformers” movie, which opens that day?

Transformed in Tyngsboro

Dear Transformed:

The fact of the matter is, the Founding Fathers risked their lives for the specific purpose of garnering you the freedom to spend our nation’s birthday watching a movie about cars and planes that morph into giant robots. That’s in the Declaration of Independence, right after the part about the pursuit of happiness.

Dear Mr. Holiday:

I’m holding a Fourth of July cookout, and my friends tell me I should be grilling fancy stuff like Angus steaks and spice-rubbed lamb kabobs, but I just want to go with old-fashioned hot dogs and hamburgers. Am I making a mistake?

Hungry in Hackensack

Dear Hungry:

There is nothing wrong with serving hot dogs and hamburgers at your July Fourth cookout, as long as you also plan to distract people with powerful illegal explosives. Or ambrosia. One of those two things.

Peter Chianca is a CNC (Massachusetts) managing editor and the brains behind the “The Shorelines Blog” ( To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”