A fireworks stand on North Chester Avenue, south of Harding Avenue.

Felix Adamo / The Californian

Here they come again.

I saw the first fireworks booths going up on Rosedale Highway (AKA: Gunpowder alley) on Monday.

They will be open for business July 1.

From then through the end of the holiday, the community will be under siege.

But this column isn’t a lamentation of the same old, same old.

It’s a call to arms, so to speak.

I’m typically overwhelmed with complaints about the “war zone” we know as 4th of July and how authorities never came when they were called, etc. etc.

While I appreciate the information, complaining to me won’t change things.

What will?

Butts in the seats.

Politicians do love contributions but they fear angry, motivated constituents even more.

That’s why the people who run nonprofits that sell fireworks have so much sway.

They. Show. Up.

What this means to you, my dear, quietly seething, fireworks-frustrated public, is that you must get involved if you ever want to see a change.

Don’t fret, though.

I’m here to give you a few tips.

We already have a clearinghouse for information, ideas and alerts to action.

A couple years ago I created the “BAN fireworks Kern County” Facebook page, which already has more than 1,000 likes so it has at least some reach.

Oh look, here’s the link:

Next, you need to know where and how to make your voice heard.

Oh look, there’s a side box with this article filled with contact information.

Now, what to say?

I’m convinced what we really need to hit and hit hard is how our national and state representatives have totally dropped the ball.

There are virtually no enforcement efforts to keep illegal fireworks out of California and that needs to change.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any legislation at the state or federal level for us to get behind right now, according to Dennis Revell, spokesman for TNT Fireworks.

Yes, Revell talks to me, though he disagrees with my stance to ban all personal fireworks.

He does agree illegal fireworks are out of control.

“Local governments can’t withstand the burden illegal fireworks pose,” he said. “Illegal fireworks are just too costly overall. To local government, state government, which has to pay to dispose of them, they’re hurting nonprofit groups whose biggest competitor is illegal fireworks. And of course the cost of injury and fire loss.”

While there’s no legislation at the moment, Revell suggested locals support the appointment of Dennis Mathisen as state fire marshal.

He’s been confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee and will come before the full Senate shortly.

“He really wants to turn this around,” Revell said of Mathisen’s zeal to curb illegal fireworks.

If he’s appointed, Revell said, locals should hammer state representatives to make sure Mathisen has adequate funding and personnel to go after illegal fireworks.

The state used to make an effort at keeping Nevada fireworks out of California, even sending spotters to Pahrump to jot down California license plates and alert the Nye County sheriff who would escort them out of town sans fireworks.

CHP officers still try to catch drivers coming back from Nevada with illegal stuff, but they can only do so much.

Locally, I think there’s still much we can do to try and reign in the madness over the extended holiday.

There’s no reason people should be allowed to light fireworks except on the actual 4th, and then only from dusk to 11 p.m.

Currently, county rules allow people to light fireworks starting July 1 through July 4th.

The Bakersfield City Council recently restricted that by one day, so now it’s July 2 through July 4 in city limits.

The other thing I would suggest people advocate for is more free professional shows.

If people have a free show to watch, they don’t spend money on the illegal stuff.

More than 12,000 people show up for the city’s free show at the Park at Riverwalk.

If the county put on a free fireworks show in the metro Bakersfield area, I bet it would be just as well-attended.

Aside from that, document, document, document.

Get video of what goes on in your neighborhoods and send it to BAN fireworks Kern County so everyone will know how bad it is.

Hang in there, Bakersfield.

July 5th is just around the corner.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry. Her column runs Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at, call her at 661-395-7373 or email follow her on Twitter @loishenry or on Facebook at Lois Henry.



Read archived columns by Lois Henry at


(10) comments


Just a bit more information that may be useful to many folks if you would like to engage in an elaborate elegal celebration starting now between 8pm and 3am with aprox 4 final fan-alleys on the fourth wkend just show up in the city block on the SW corner of renfro rd and johnson rd closer to the E end of the development maybe BPD will have a check point to insure some folks get a safe ride to the pokey and beware there are no signs posted of armed Kleenex's...


Its 6/23/17 1:45 AM I wake to use the restroom and realize I forgot to take out the trash cans slip on shorts and sandals as i try to open the door my two dogs are plastered to it i ask whats up with you two and walk out to the sounds of blasting fireworks did i mention the time and date .. "REALLY" and coming from the same home that tortured me and my small ranch of animals last year.. my animals get no choice in this celebration and it is true torture for them all they know is something is going to hurt them .. I have no problem for folks who want to celebrate this holiday it is "ONE" day and thats july the forth .. Maybe someone can translate this in Spanish .. and i could even deal with a day before and a day after that would be the 3rd and the 5th for folks who don't understand ...WHERE is respect for ALL??? Are these folks that self centered ?? .. Thank all you folks for scaring the He!! out of all our animals not to mention the ones that run away and get smashed on the road and the damage caused by fire and injuries from flying objects .. I think most of these folks dont even know the meaning of the fourth its just a big party to them .. Thank you Lois Henry I love you...

Gene Pool Chlorinator

"Gunpowder Alley", "Under Siege", "War Zone"? Seriously, Lois? I'll admit that I actually look forward to your annual lamentation of fireworks and how those that support and enjoy celebrating our nation's independence are knuckle-dragging hunter-gatherers who hope homes burn to the ground & people get injured.
For some reason you think if we ban all personal use (Safe & Sane) fireworks, we'll be free of those evil illegal ones. This makes no sense from a number of angles- first & foremost, people are using illegal fireworks even though there is a legal option; why would that change if legal fireworks were suddenly not so?
You also claim if there were more "free" shows, that would drive the use of personal fireworks downward. While I agree that is feasible (although the number would be a very small percentage of those that use fireworks), you know there is really no such thing as "free" anything. Professional fireworks are very expensive and require licensed technicians to conduct the shows. Where will these additional funds come from? My recommendation? Since you are so supportive of this measure, why doesn't the Californian sponsor a show? Perhaps revive the large scale shows that were part of Bakersfield College's history on July 4th? You can take up a collection at the office and provide a free show for the citizens of Bakersfield and/or Kern County.
Your insinuation that people running non-profits are "angry motivated constituents" is ignorant and wrong. BARC, Believers in Jesus Church & the Ridgeview High Music Boosters are some of the organizations speaking about how selling fireworks helps them financially ( Fine examples of your "angry" constituents.
Lois, please feel free to do all you want to limit the use of illegal fireworks, but leave those of us using approved Safe and Sane fireworks alone.


I have no intention of listening to ANY rule changes proposed by a woman who already admits she wants to ban all fireworks permanently. She confuses illegal and legal fireworks often (even her headline is "Sick of illegal fireworks?" accompanied by a picture of a legal firework booth) and I will not surrender one inch to this nanny-state enabler.

Bakersfield Californian- Does this represent you? Do you not have a problem with the lead sentence on this story and the misleading picture of a legal firework stand? Because, if I was TNT, I would be looking into a libel lawsuit concerning your obvious and intentional misrepresentation of their fireworks as "illegal."


OH LORDY LORD!!! Another Lois Henry Fail. Besides that, did anyone notice this sad piece's Headline mentions ILLEGAL FIREWORKS, but the picture is of a LEGAL FIREWORKS stand??


"There’s no reason people should be allowed to light fireworks except on the actual 4th, and then only from dusk to 11 p.m."

OMG! Actually Lois, there's no reason people like you should be allowed to tell anyone what to do but unfortunately inside every liberal is a little Mussolini just waiting to goose-step out.

Bill Palmer

California will never ban fireworks because it would have to prosecute all of the illegals that take pride in violating yet another law.


Hey hey come on Lois has a whole 1000 people (out of 400000) people who are mad about these evil fireworks. Seriously mortars and sky rockets are a bad idea around wood shake houses. I think it would be cheaper to buy Lois a vacation, say to Russia from July1 to July 5.
But hey my parrot needs something to line his cage floor.


Hey Lois, headed to parump this weekend to stock. Where are you hosting your opinionated fun sucker part at so I can make sure to be close by.


I am sick of all the stupid laws like the one banning real fireworks. In the free United States outside of Kalifornistan people get to celebrate our independence like I did as a child by setting off loud, entertaining, and yes somewhat dangerous fireworks. Like anything, if not done properly or with a little common sense, fireworks can be dangerous. Just like driving a car can. Stupid people will get hurt, but that is not a good reason to take things away from the citizens of this country. If it was, we would have nothing. Stupid people can make a Kleenx deadly. Fireworks like bottle rockets, black cats, screaming memies, M80s, and many others are fun, entertaining, and down right American. As a child my father would bring home a big bag of goodies such as these and leave my brother and me to build some character and have some fun. All these "safe and sane" glorified sparklers are nothing but a huge money making scheme. You can spend $500 on these things and get what in most of the country would only cost $50. They are highly over price and boring! Our families here in California should do as the article suggests and voice our concerns to leaders. Only the concern should be repealing these stupid, un American laws preventing us from celebrating our independence. As for those who do not like these types of fireworks, that is fine. Not everyone will like fireworks, but that should not prevent everyone else from enjoying them one night a year. I know this will never happen in this soon to be fully communist state, but this true American can wish. Instead I will just have to wait a couple more years to retire and take my family to free America to live.

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