On this date in 1966, Red Devil Fireworks ran this black and white ad in the Long Beach Independent.
That year the Scholarship League and Cub Scout pack 105 ran the local Seal Beach fireworks stands at Pacific Coast Highway at the Long Beach border and one at the vacant lot between Marina Drive and Central Avenue at Second Street. The Leisure World Lions ran one at Westminster and Bay Boulevard (now Seal Beach Boulevard). The McGaugh Band ran a Black Panther stand at Bolsa Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. There were probably also Freedom and Wildcat fireworks stands set up in town, but I can’t find any location listings.
Seal Beach kids of a certain age will remember when fireworks were still legal in town and how the local charitable institutions would run firework stands in parking lots and roadside locations for a few weeks before Independence Day.
The anticipation would begin when the empty firework stands mysteriously appeared around mid-June (just days after school let out!), the fireproof metal doors left ajar as if to say, “No fireworks here, kid. Life is filled with disappointments. Get used to it.”
Suddenly the stands would be padlocked which meant that the firework inventory had been delivered, probably after midnight by sharply uniformed men who trained all year for this one special holiday. Normally honest kids circled the stands and checked the locks, greedy for just a glimpse at the gaudily packaged fireworks displayed within.
Advertising flyers promising pure pyrotechnic joy would be inserted in the Sunday newspaper. Kids all across town would study the different illustrations of fireworks and fireworks assortment packages while parents nervously focused on the prices.
The last part of this essential patriotic ritual would involve the kids incessantly nagging their parents (What if they run out of all the good fireworks? Mooom! Daaaaad! We gotta go todaaaay!). Finally mom and dad relented, and the family drove to whichever stand they favored and bought that year’s firework supplies.
Kids were always disgusted by the dismal lack of ambition in purchasing enough fireworks (Never enough! Never enough!), but on July Fourth, up and down the sidewalks, curbs, and asphalt streets of Seal Beach, residents somehow managed to set off fireworks for hours after the sun set. It was glorious.
I don’t begrudge the safer and saner regulations that make the local fire department’s job a little easier, but, boy, do I miss that ritual.
– Michael Dobkins