Lighting Up the Sky

It takes a lot of energy to celebrate America’s birthday!

Two whumps off in the distance draw our eyes up into the darkening Fourth of July sky, where a pair of glittery tracers arc higher and higher into the black. They disappear, and in an instant there are two pops, like the reports of twin howitzers, and all we can see are dazzling sprays of light.

The grandkids gasp and grin as their faces reflect the illumination. “Whoah!” says the older one, looking wide-eyed at his buddy. His younger sister squeals and claps her hands.

What’s your favorite Independence Day moment?

Maybe it’s the fireworks or the flags and parade or maybe the cooking out. Who doesn’t like to eat, right? Maybe it’s the belly laughs from little kids who’re having a ball, running madcap around the family blanket spread out in the park.

The Fourth is uniquely American – a celebration of freedom that brings together family, neighborhoods and entire communities. The experiences and memories are yours – with a lot of help from natural gas and oil.

46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, most using fuels made from petroleum

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Americans will enjoy 150 million hot dogs – made, packaged and delivered with help from petroleum

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62% of households with a grill have one powered by gas. The Fourth is the most popular day to barbecue

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As the fireworks show intensifies, we think about the big day we’ve already had: swimming at the neighborhood pool and firing up the gas grill to barbecue chicken legs, hot dogs and hamburgers.

The children, a mixture of cousins and chums from down the street, never came up for air. With them it’s a different kind of energy story.

After the cookout we trooped to the park, where, like homesteaders on the prairie, we picked the best spot to lay our blankets and set up lawn chairs. While our town’s fireworks are splendid, they’re not on the scale of the Macy’s fireworks show in New York City, which launches more than 40,000 shells before it’s over – at its height firing more than 1,000 shells into the air every second.

4th of July fireworks statistics

Americans of all ages love the Fourth and they love their fireworks. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, U.S. fireworks purchases have grown by nearly 200 percent in the past 20 years – between professionals and amateurs, $1.2 billion in sales last year.

That’s a lot of bang and a lot of bucks. During our nation’s first Independence Day in 1777, fireworks played an essential celebratory role, but it wasn’t the technicolor display we’re used to today; color wasn’t added until the mid-1800s.

This night, our group is glad for the colorful palette. The show is a choreography of light and sound. Fifteen minutes in, there are multiple thumps in the distance. More tracers etch into the night – two, three, four, five or more at once.

grandkids watching the fireworks

They burst almost in unison, like the rattle of a string of firecrackers only bigger and louder. Pop, bang, boom! Splashes of streaming color streak across the sky, expanding into a bouquet of light. Then there’s a crackle as some of the streamers, fizzling out, drift down. The children whoop and holler as the show crescendos.

On the Fourth we celebrate freedom – the ability to choose and make your own way. That’s America. And natural gas and oil power and support the celebration – as they power a new, growing opportunity for Americans to look around the world and do good.

Our show sputters to its end and there’s loud, sustained applause all around. “OK,” says one of the adults in our group. “Who’s got the sparklers?”

Natural gas and oil: Powering the moments that matter.