The bottle rocket's red glare - Rob Felt

Warning: Do not attempt to recreate the following events. Please observe proper safety precautions when enjoying fireworks. The events described here are not endorsed by the Daily Herald, the News Daily, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. or any of their affiliates.

Most God-fearing Americans gathered their family and friends together to sit under the early summer twilight and watch fireworks explode overhead on the Fourth of July. These trips to local fairgrounds and parks included picnic food, sparklers and a cooler with separate refreshments for the kids and the grown-ups.

Some choose to create their own magic and found a safe place to light up the heavens themselves with store-bought rockets. These part-time pyromaniacs spent hundreds of dollars and devised elaborate launch pads to carry out timed attacks on the night sky.

A third group of patriotic revelers also existed n those who separated into two clans, armed themselves to the teeth with bags of Uncle Sam's party favors, and blasted away at each other from across a grassy field.

This past Fourth of July, I was in the latter group.

It started off as a harmless and playful shot in the dark. The group that was huddled near the house angled a tube low and let a Moon Whistler fly just feet above our heads. It popped in the woods behind us.

No big deal. We continued to set up rockets and aim for the moon.

Then another bottle rocket fizzed our way, its orange spark trail tracing a low arch in the darkness. It landed 10 feet in front of us and popped. Then another zipped overhead.

The hawks among us called for a swift retaliation. Held off by the more progressive thinkers, our return strike would wait for additional prompting.

We got some. A silent rocket sneaked past us and gave its retort. Our counter fire was swift and aggressive. Roman Candles sent plumes of sparks high into the air, lighting up the battlefield and serving as a distraction for our low returning Moon Whistlers.

The battle raged on for 15 minutes like this, neither side giving or gaining anything. That's when they crossed the line. That's when they decided to force our full arsenal into action.

A medium-sized rocket shrieked across the lawn and smacked Buddy in the leg. It skidded another 10 feet in the grass before exploding and sending a spark shower into the trees. They had ignored conventional firework warfare weapons restrictions! They were using missiles banned by every standard treaty and convention set up to insure safe battle with backyard combustibles!

Several among us began to fashion a grenade from a sky mortar. Morgan lit the fuse and tossed it strongly. Our enemies sensed that this would be different from our previous attacks. Watching the lit fuse wobble through the air, they took cover behind a car.

The bomb landed and began its first stage of motion, wriggling on the ground and squealing. It burst apart, sending the two halves in different directions. Wrongly assuming that this separation was the actual explosion, our enemies raised their heads from behind their bunker.

White-hot sparks erupted and engulfed their useless barrier. They recoiled, falling to the ground while the second half exploded and repeated the same mayhem just a few feet away.

With thick smoke hanging in the air, they came out with their hands up, asking for a cease fire and declaring their position as coverless. It was over.

After reliving every gruesome detail and close call with X-degree burns, we formed an alignment with our opposition and worked together to finish off the rest of the weapons cache n by shooting it into the sky.

Maybe it was the allusion to war on our country's birthday that made such a dangerous game so fun. Whatever it was, we were lucky to emerge completely unscathed. Think what you will of our sanity, but what better way to celebrate our country's independence than to stage a fight for our own?

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.