Looking forward to a fun July 4 at home and then an evening of community patriotism, the Johnstones planned to buy a large pack of "safe and sane" fireworks Tuesday.
After shopping in both Rohnert Park and Petaluma, the family wasn't sure exactly what they'd buy — the choices are immense, from simple sparklers to fancy packs of $100 or more.
"There are just so many," said mom Suzanne in Petaluma. "I don't even know what to get."
She said the family likely would fire off the small ones at home, then head to the community fireworks show at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.
"We like to ooh and aah at the big ones," she said.
Safe and sane fireworks sales have begun in Sonoma County cities, although fire officials remind folks that each city has its own laws governing when they can be used — only on July 4 except for Sebastopol.
The Johnstones are among thousands of fireworks lovers who will buy the so-called safe and sane personal fireworks, the only state-approved ones, this week. Those are for sale at booths in Cloverdale, Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol.
But even the state-approved fireworks are illegal in Cotati, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor and in unincorporated areas of the county.
Sebastopol has the most liberal fireworks sales and use policies, but that hasn't proved to be a problem, said Fire Chief Bill Braga.
"We are a lit bit more lenient on the use, but honestly, we haven't had the fireworks-related fires that other city cities have," he said. "We've been lucky."
There are several large-scale pyrotechnic shows to choose from — and you can even watch shows three days in a row, if that's your thing.
Kicking off first is Guerneville, with a daylong celebration Thursday. A craft fair will take over downtown, followed by a barbecue at noon, music at 3 p.m. and fireworks at dusk over the Russian River.
Also Thursday is Sebastopol's show at Analy High School and Windsor's show at Windsor High, both when it gets dark.
On Independence Day on Friday, Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Santa Rosa and Petaluma all have community shows.
Sonoma starts early with a 10 a.m. parade. The others kick off later with festivals with food and music.
Gates open at 3:30 p.m. for Santa Rosa's "Red, White and Boom" show at the fairgrounds, while Petaluma's "PTown 4th" opens at 5 p.m. at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.
Sonoma, Cloverdale and Healdsburg's shows are free, while the festivals in Santa Rosa and Petaluma charge admission.
For something a bit more upscale, Rohnert Park's Weill Hall offers tickets to a symphony concert followed by fireworks. Singer Judy Collins will be backed by the Santa Rosa Symphony, followed by a pyrotechnics show with patriotic musical mainstays including "America the Beautiful," "This Land is Your Land" and "God Bless America."
If your patriotic fervor hasn't dampened by then, Monte Rio and Bodega Bay offer more fireworks fun.
At Monte Rio Beach, events continue Friday and Saturday, from mid-morning to 9 p.m. and free fireworks at dusk on Saturday. In Bodega Bay's Westside Park, free fireworks kick off at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.