Bring on the booms: Age-old Independence Day tradition blasts residents out of bed

Cannons used to fire booms in the wee hours of Fourth of July mornings, Cedar City, Utah, July 4, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – Early Saturday morning, 6 a.m. to be exact, Cedar City residents awoke to four resounding booms throughout the town that shook homes, set off car alarms and sent family dogs into a frenzy. It was all part of a Cedar City Fire Department Independence Day tradition so old, no one seems to know when it started.

Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips has been a firefighter in the community for 21 years, and he said the Fire Department has been waking up the public on July 4 for as long as he can remember.

“I think it came clear back in the ‘40s at the mine, but I’m not sure,” he said. “I’ve heard rumors that someone went off and lit dynamite in the morning. Then you have the Lions Club setting off an acetylene cannon, but that’s all rumors.”

Volunteer firefighter Paul Douglas said he’s been part of the Cedar City Fire Department since 1962 more than 50 years  and even he has no clue how, or when, the tradition began.

There are six different locations where the Fire Department sets out cannons, Phillips said, so the booms are spread evenly throughout the town, hailing American independence with 24 salutes.

“Like Canyon View and Greens Lake Road and a ballpark out there in the center of town and out west,” he said. “So, we kind of surround the city so everyone gets to hear it.”

If social media is any indication, everyone did hear it Saturday morning. Following the cannon blasts, posts from Cedar City residents almost immediately began flooding Facebook, admonishing neighborhood children for starting the holiday morning too early and disturbing peaceful slumber throughout the town.

At times, the firemen have gotten called into the police station after residents complained about the early morning booms waking them up, Phillips said  something he said is just another part of the age-old tradition.

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  • St. G July 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Disturbing the peace, waking babies, traumatizing pets…backwards logic to promote freedom.

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