We’re approaching fireworks season — delight of youth, scourge of dogs. There’s always some confusion about what’s legal in Minnesota, so here’s a handy guide:

1. Is it fun? It’s not legal.

2. Do you have to cross a river into another state, where you realize that your entire moral construct about following the law is easily dispatched, and this produces no self-reflection at all? That means it’s not legal. Shame on you. And can you pick me up some Black Cats?

3. Does it make a concussive boom that liquefies the internal organs of squirrels within a 30-yard radius? It is not legal.

4. Does it just sit there and barf sparks for a minute with all the drama of an Alka-Seltzer tablet? It is legal.

5. Can it land on a neighbor’s roof, roll into the gutter, ignite some leaves and make you hand your partner the phone to dial 911 while you take the rest of the contraband, put it in a bag and dump it in a gas station trash can, which makes you toss and turn all night as you imagine a stray cigarette butt lighting up the entire corner, leaving only some scraps traceable to the Wisconsin store and your credit card? Why didn’t you pay cash? It is not legal.

6. Can it be purchased in pre-packaged collections with names like MEGA STORM and ULTRA WHIZ and BLAST O’ STUFF, but it should really be called WHOOP DE DOO because it’s just fountains? Legal.

7. Are they those things you throw at the ground that litter the patio with paper? Legal as snapping your fingers in public — and just as thrilling.

I’m all about the legal fireworks. As much as I’d love to buy stuff that celebrates self-governance by blowing a crater in the lawn, I don’t trust myself. Many years ago I was, er, present when an incendiary device that boasted 100 shells tipped over after the first one fired, and, as everyone scattered, I thought “There are 99 more! It’s like a nightmare song from Hell Camp: ‘99 rockets of fire on the 4th, 99 rockets of fire / singe one kid, blind his sis / 98 rockets of fire on the 4th!’ ”

Here’s the approach I’d suggest: Make all fireworks legal in Minnesota, but require a license to shoot them off. Every block would have a designated, certified Pyrotechnical Pro, who’d handle the good stuff.

This is what they’d say:

“Oooooo! That was awesome! Now we have the triple-Lotus-Blossom Joy Flower, a six-tier chrysanthemum blossom with a post-bloom crackle, followed by a 90-decibel report from a finishing shell based on 19th-century Chinese technology. Please stand back behind the yellow line, and enjoy!”


“I don’t think the fuse is lit. I’m going to look down the pipe and see if it’s sparking. Hand me the Bic lighter. And hold my beer.”