Baby, you’re a firework…

It was hard to beat the Fourth of July in 1997. I worked on Mount Washington, for the venerable radio giant B94, where I was music director. Our building, underneath a massive radio tower on the Duquesne Incline side of the mountain, used to house our air studios, our administrative offices and our sales floor. But a few years prior, everyone moved out for new offices in Foster Plaza, leaving just me and the on-air staff of three radio stations (by then including 100.7 and Y108).

An afterwork party on the B94 rooftop deck. That’s me in the baseball hat. No better view of the city at the time.

The best part? We had our pick of the vacated offices. I took the former general manager’s office, with its mini-fridge, TV and a jaw-dropping wraparound deck overlooking Three Rivers Stadium. We also had a rooftop deck, perfect for inviting friends for fireworks and the view, and wow, did we invite friends. We chugged Zima and Crystal Pepsi — Yes, we did. It was surplus radio contest giveaways from Thursday Thursday and it was FREE — and we watched Zambelli’s handiwork explode over Point State Park.

Even John Mellencamp hung out on the roof with us after playing a set in the air studio. Pictured here with the Ronman.

But by the next year, I was off to a new job at the Post-Gazette and ready to watch the fireworks in a more subdued location. We had lived in Mt. Lebanon for a few years and thought it would be worth checking out Mt. Lebanon’s display, which are shot off near the high school stadium. We were not disappointed! Over the years, as we added a child, we modified our fireworks visits. When Harrison was little, we would go up to the ballfield at Markham, wearing our glow necklaces, and watch as the colorful bursts rose above the treeline.

One year, we watched from atop the North Parking Garage, where you can see displays from all over the South Hills and even into the western suburbs. That year, we even bought popcorn at the Denis Theater beforehand.

Soon after, the Markham treeline got too tall to see much and our son had more stamina to last the whole day. In 2012, when the high school was being renovated and the high school stadium was closed, we watched from our chairs parked in the middle of Washington Road. The municipality shot off the fireworks from Mt. Lebanon Cemetery. While it was awesome to watch, it didn’t sit well with the cemetery and that was the last time we did it that way.

Getting ready for fireworks on a dusky and closed Washington Road …

Our friends, whose yard overlooks Mt. Lebanon Park, used to have the best July Fourth parties with a perfect view, great food and company.

These years are a little mellower. We’ll usually go to the Mt. Lebanon pool in the afternoon, go home to change, eat dinner (and try to soundproof the basement for the dogs) and come back for the concert in the park, followed by the fireworks.

Now I feel I can speak with some authority: If you plan to watch the whole display and you don’t have a toddler to soothe, the best place to watch Mt. Lebanon fireworks is on the turf at the high school stadium. Bring a blanket, bug spray and a cool drink. (But don’t drink too much, because the women’s line at the park bathroom can be eternal.) Lie down and stare up at the sky from the soft carpet. Breathe in the soft summer air with just a hint of sulfur on the breeze. You’ll feel those booms deep in your chest and just when you think they’re over, they’ll go on and on and on. Hats off to our recreation department for putting on the best show this side of the B94 GM’s office!

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