5 Fast, Flashy Fireworks Facts

Fireworks can be:

1) Historic. One of the earliest references to the celebration of America's Independence Day comes from The Universal Asylum and Columbia Magazine in July 1790. Because July 4 fell on a Sunday that year, festivities were postponed for a day. In Philadelphia, thousands of celebrants gathered on Monday, July 5, at Grey's Gardens (sometimes spelled Gray's) on the shore of the Schuylkill River. The fireworks were "superb," a reporter noted, and "happily no accident occurred."

2) Dangerous. Accidents do occur. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported last June that in 2012 "fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments."

3) Gargantuan. The Largest Firework Display Ever, according to Guinness World Records, took place in Dubai on the last day of 2013. The phantasmagoric festival featured more than 479,000 fireworks.

4) Anthemic. Katy Perry's 2010 hit "Firework" was inspired by these lines from Jack Kerouac's iconic novel On the Road: "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, 'Awww!' "

5) Frightening. Some people call it pyrotechnophobia. On some message boards it's called kovtapyroergasoiphobia. It dogs dogs and scares cats. It can also affect people. We asked Judith Chessa — coordinator of the Anxiety & Phobia Treatment Center in White Plains, N.Y. — what she says to people who fear fireworks. "As with any phobia," Judy says, "we counsel people to confront their fears in manageable steps. ... A combination of cognitive behavior therapy and graduated exposure therapy can be very effective. ... Avoidance only increases anxiety."

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The Protojournalist: Experimental storytelling for the LURVers — Listeners, Users, Readers, Viewers — of NPR. @NPRtpj

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