This year's 4th of July rolled around the same time as it does every year. And just like in years past, the Saturday before the 4th was our annual fireworks show out here on our little family compound.
Thanks to last year's burn ban that prevented us from putting on our show, we still had our assortment of fireworks that had been purchased for that show sitting in one of our weather-proof containers. They had waited patiently to serve their purpose and the recent rains meant that this year would be their year. Also, after some discussion internally, we decided to pool together some extra money and add to our already sizeable collection of boom cakes (see images below for the full collection).
The day of our show was very busy. Everyone was cleaning their houses in preparation for the throngs of guests expected to arrive that evening. A few of us made the trip to grab the new stuff to be added to the show. Food was being prepped for us to snack on as we worked through the day to get ready. We were all responding to text messages and phone calls from our guests about when to arrive, what to bring, etc.
By the time the day finally reached the point for people to start showing up, we were all exhausted but excited. Not being able to do our annual show in 2022 had left a sour taste in our mouths and everyone here wanted to ensure that this year's show helped to make up for last year's disappointment.
All in all, there were between 50-60 people at our house alone that I was able to roughly count throughout the night between family and friends. Nearly everyone there was someone we knew and had invited. Some of our guests, however, had taken it on themselves to invite their own guests to our house to enjoy the show. For the most part this wasn't an issue but it was somewhat irksome that they had not bothered to ask us if that was okay in advance. If I invite you to come to my house that doesn't mean bring your friends unannounced. It was more a matter of respect and common courtesy and the lack that guest showed in both areas that upset us initially.
As the evening went on, things seemed to be going well. Everyone was getting along. There was a lot of friendly conversation and socializing, part of the fun for this celebration. When the sun started to dip below the horizon everyone made their way outside to take their seats and watch the show. At 8:47 PM the first fuse was lit. It was a 260 shot "cake" that weighed roughly 40 lbs. and was expected to be a grand opening to the show. After about 3 shots it fizzled out. Our first major dud in a show in years but we pressed on.
The opening dud was the only dud of the night and the rest of the show went off beautifully with the grand finale launching a few minutes past 10 PM. All in all, the show was a success and now we were ready to move on to the post-show gathering. Many of our guests, especially those with young children, left immediately following the show's conclusion but some of our closer friends and family will usually hang around and visit a while more after the show when things are a little more calm.
My wife and I aren't big drinkers but we have a collection of alcohol for when we entertain so our guests can have a few drinks or try some exotic things that we find in our travels. At each of our parties we tend to have a selection of our booze set out for people to enjoy within reason. On occasion, others will bring their own alcohol to add to the mix. We usually don't have people that get too tipsy or drunk and for those that do we offer a place to crash on the compound so that they aren't out driving the roads in an unsafe condition. And while nobody got drunk at this year's festivities, the alcohol did seem to be a point of concern that will undoubtedly impact our future events.
In addition to our alcohol, one of our daughter-in-laws brought a bottle of Peach Crown to the house. It was a new unopened bottle. She brought it along with a selection of bottled beers and a few other things. After the fireworks had ended, our daughter-in-law went into the bar area to grab the bottle of Crown she had brought to make some drinks for her and some of their guests who were also at our house. The problem began when she discovered an empty Crown bag and no bottle. She searched the house, including the trash can, and found no signs that her bottle was there. It seems that someone had sneaked off with her new bottle of Peach Crown.
Luckily, I had a partially used bottle of Peach Crown still stashed away in a cabinet that we pulled out to replace what had been taken but it highlighted a very real problem, one of our guests had decided to take what was not theirs from our home at some point prior in the night. We started doing some discreet inquiring to our remaining guests to see if they had seen anything suspicious or anyone messing around in the bar area and what we found out was disturbing.
Apparently, our "extra" guests were discovered on different occasions during the show exploring the private areas of our house that had been closed to guests. One time they were found in our son's bedroom and were advised that they didn't need to be in there by a family member who had gone inside to use the restroom where they discovered the other guests in an area the family member knew to be forbidden. On another occasion, a close friend of the family had gone inside to get a drink when they found these others guests nosing around in our bedroom before being asked to go outside.
I don't know what they were doing in either bedroom while the house was largely empty as most everyone was outside enjoying the show but my skepticism leads me to think that it wasn't anything noble. They had been in the house long enough to know where the bathroom was. The food and drinks that were available were clearly laid out in the kitchen and bar areas that they had been enjoying earlier. There is no good reason that I can come up with for them to be wandering around in those private, closed off parts of the house while the house was empty without our knowledge or consent.
I'm not saying these guests were responsible for the missing liquor but the two circumstances certainly lead you to think that there might be a connection. Regardless of their intentions roaming through parts of the house they shouldn't have been in and who was responsible for the missing liquor (and who knows what else that we perhaps haven't noticed), my wife and I have decided to implement additional security before the next party.
My office already has a biometric lock on it. I keep a lot of electronics in my office for my day job as an IT consultant along with a wide variety of nerd collectibles that my wife doesn't want on display in the main parts of the house for some odd reason. I feel confident that had that lock not been in place that our extra guests would have explored that area too without our knowledge. With that in mind, we have opted to install biometric locks on all of our interior bedrooms. Our son agreed that he wants one on his room because he really was not appreciative of the fact that someone had gone into his room.
We also took stock of our cameras. We do have some cameras inside the house and outside the house but none that were actively monitoring the bar area. The decision has been made to beef up the number of cameras inside the house to better monitor all areas. We like to entertain and have people at the house, which is a very simple 3 bedroom house so its not like there are a lot of places to hide, so it won't take much to get better surveillance throughout more of the house but we're a bit disappointed that it has come down to this and not being about to trust our guests to respect our home and our other guests.
We've also made the decision to inform our family member that brought the extra guests that those guests in particular are not welcomed on our property for their unauthorized tour of our house and that we feel it best that he no longer bring uninvited guests to our house. He is still invited to come for our various parties and events but only people we explicitly invite or we have given prior consent for them to be included will be welcomed. Any uninvited or unapproved guests will be asked to leave before they reach the front door and any guff will result in their "host" being invited to leave with them. In light of this year's issues this is the best way to protect our property, our privacy, and the property and privacy of our other trusted guests.
If these measures aren't sufficient and our events continue to be marred by such disrespectful acts then our only options will be to either hire security to monitor our house during the events or to stop holding large parties. We don't really wish to do either but if we can't trust those we choose to share our home with to have respect and courtesy for us and our others guests then we will have few other options.