Columbia residents carry on the tradition of fireworks wars
COLUMBIA - While technically illegal, the Fourth of July fireworks war on Bodie drive is something many residents look forward to every year.
Participants use cherry bombs, roman candles and Saturn missiles to try to tag each other.
Ahmonta Harris has been coordinating the war since he was 16. He said fireworks wars in Columbia date back four decades.
"Even my mom did it. She's in her late 40's," he said.
It's an event that has recently garnered recogition.
Matt Akins, a photographer whose video of last year's war went viral, said he feels people only know Columbia as the home of MU and not much else.
"I feel like the wars give people a sense of identity, something to be proud of, something to say 'this is a tradition,' not just where Mizzou is at," he said.
Harris said, while the war looks chaotic in the video, he strictly enforces a number of rules.
"No shooting at my camera man, no shooting at innocent people, no taking other people's fire works, no getting mad if you get burned or hit, mandatory clean up the neighborhood the next day and no getting into it with people if they tell you to stop," he said.
Harris said there are injuries but they're typically limited to minor burns. He also said those who do get burned don't let their injuries get in the way of the war.
"There was an incident last year where a guy got a third degree burn to his buttocks area and I think he's warring again this year, too," Harris said. "I mean, people who do get burned, they war every year. You know the risk."
Harris said he makes the dangers of warring clear to everyone but he acknowledges that danger is part of the fun.
"A lot of stuff other people do is dangerous. Bungee jumping, skydiving, swim with sharks, it's all dangerous but, at the end of the day, it's what you like. I'm not going to knock you for what you like, don't knock me for what I like."
Akins said fireworks wars are something everyone can enjoy.
"I mean, when I was younger, I may or may not have participated in some wars and I love them," he said.
Columbia does not allow fireworks within the city limits. KOMU 8 reached out to the Columbia Police Department for a comment but it did not respond.