Fireworks on the Fourth of July meant sitting on blankets with family by the railway tracks, munching on pretzels and chips while the sky darkened and the excitement built up to the colourful explosions over the Niagara River. As I grew up, I saw them in bigger cities like Santa Barbara, CA, or Buffalo and Rochester, NY with friends. I didn't expect the local Guy Fawkes Day celebration in Willesden, London, to be much different, but it was.
For one thing, it's obviously November and not July, which meant being bundled up in winter coats, scarves, gloves, the works. Another thing was the dancing and the amusement rides, and the last thing was the violence.
I didn't realize Roundwood Park existed or that it was a five minute walk from my house. There were manicured flower beds, green grass and trees, a fish pond with a willow tree and a hill with a view of Wembley Stadium that would be a gorgeous place to watch the sun set.
As we approached the park, people were selling sparklers, flashing bunny ears, glo-sticks, light sabres, burgers, and everything that makes a regular fairground. There were rides, mainly for kids, strobe lights, haunted houses and people everywhere.
We found a nice spot near a cotton candy vendor and watched the sparks light up the sky. Most of the fireworks were white or red, a few were purple. My favorite ones were gold. They shot up with a bang and exploded in long streams of gold glitter. The very end of the grand finale consisted of only these. They filled the whole sky over a grey background of smoke and it looked like the sky was raining gold streams of glitter on the crowd. Everyone cheered. The air smelled of gun powder and cotton candy.
St and R were at the other side of the park. As we approached the hill, all we could hear was hip hop blaring out of speakers like it was an outdoor club. People were dancing, even the security guards were into it. R and St were sharing a thermos of mulled wine and we stood around talking for a while.
All of a sudden, we heard a bang in the crowd and people screaming and then a rush of 100 teenagers running down the hill. Then another bang and more people running and screaming. An ambulance put its lights on, the security guards disappeared, the music stopped. We stood there watching and heard a third bang, followed by more running and screaming. S and I decided it was time to go. We hadn't eaten yet and it was getting really cold on the top of the hill so we said goodbye and walked back toward the kiddie rides wondering what the hell was going on.
All of a sudden, we heard a whistle right above our heads. S instinctively shielded my body with his and we turned around to see a firework explode into the ground about four feet away from us.
I couldn't believe that people could be so immature to throw fireworks into crowds, and especially crowds full of little kids. I just don't understand what goes through people's minds when they do those things.