Firework alternatives

Enjoy your cottage weekend without the bang of fireworks

Fireworks are a great way to celebrate special occasions, but not everyone loves them… particularly in Muskoka, where the exploding sounds travel easily across the water, terrifying dogs and other animals as well as disturbing cottage neighbours.

We understand that fireworks are a celebration, but our dogs don’t. To them, fireworks are explosions, plain and simple. The sound, the sudden burst of colour, even the smells trigger their instinct to flee.

Some dog experts say that more dogs are lost over the Canada Day/Independence Day holidays than at any other time of year, as dogs bolt in fear. And while Victoria Day isn’t quite as big a fireworks deal as the July holidays, it’s still a good excuse to mark the long weekend with a few whiz-bangs.

But fireworks aren’t the only way to make a night at the cottage look and feel like a celebration. Here are a few other options, some of which are quite a bit more pet-friendly (and neighbour-friendly!)

This year your long weekend gathering in Muskoka should be just you and the people you live with. But you can still turn it into a celebration.

Glow sticks

A few glow sticks are fun; a big stack of them is a recipe for creative awesomeness. Use glow sticks and a camera on a slow shutter setting to write words in the night sky. Have a contest to see who can paint a scene.

Or clip your glow sticks together into glowing attire. Glasses are easy, but can you make a glowing vest? A swishing, glowing hula skirt? How about a glow-in-the-dark fashion show?

You can also pick up some light cubes, to bring a touch more colour and brightness to the scene.

Elephant’s toothpaste

This isn’t a long-lasting activity, but if it works it looks highly impressive. You combine a mixture of dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, food colouring and a catalyst like yeast. The chemical reaction causes masses of brightly coloured bubbles to form rapidly. If you do it in a narrow-necked bottle like a bleach jug, the coloured foam will come shooting into the air.

The classic science class version of this experiment uses 30 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is not something you can just pick up at the drugstore. But you can still create a great effect using home-grade three percent hydrogen peroxide. The recipe is here. Just be aware that three (or six, if you can find it) percent will produce a slower reaction.

Floating lanterns

Airborne sky lanterns were all the rage a few years ago… until people realized that the wires they’re made with can kill wildlife, and the airborne lanterns themselves posed a significant fire risk.

Floating water lanterns, on the other hand, can be an excellent alternative. They’re just made of paper and a candle, folded into shape, placed on the water and set alight.

You can make these yourself or buy premade ones. Just be sure to look for ones that are marked as wire-free. They’re not suitable to release on the lake — just picture a gust of wind blowing flaming lanterns toward your neighbour’s boathouse — but if you have a pond or pool, they can be great.

Paper bag luminaries

Incredibly simple to make, these look great — particularly if you have masses of them.

Just take ordinary paper bags, toss a handful of sand in the bottom for weight, and put a stubby candle inside. Tea lights work well but burn out in an hour or two; for longer lights, use slightly larger votive candles.

If you can find them, coloured paper bags look great as well. Just be sure they’re thin enough that the light can shine through.

For added effect, use a hole punch to create patterns on the bags.

If you buy pre-made ones, they are usually made from fireproof bags. If you’re making your own, be sure to place them in spots where it won’t cause a disaster if the bag catches fire!

Keeping pets safe

If you are still going to be setting off fireworks — or you know your neighbours are likely to — be sure your dog has somewhere to go where she/he feels safe in the cottage. Her instinct will likely be to flee and hide when the bangs begin. If you have a basement or a bedroom closet where she sometimes goes, leave that door open for her.

For more fun ideas at the cottage, check out these blog posts.

Posted in Around Muskoka.