It seems as though the Independence Day celebrations have begun just a bit earlier than usual this year. Anyone attempting to get a little shut-eye these days can attest to that. There have been several theories as to why that is, but I'm sure it maybe just a combination of things, not the least of which is the fact that the Fourth of July is right around the corner.

Many folks seem to think this year's fireworks are a bit bigger or louder than in past years. I suppose they could be. Or maybe there is just more activity.

Some theorize that the increase in heart-stopping bangs and booms can be traced to cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes. Since the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor Charlie Baker saw fit to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes in the Bay State, lots of folks have been hot-footing it over the line into nearby Rhode Island and New Hampshire where both menthol cigarettes and fireworks are legal. That's a pretty good theory and I bet that has something to do with it.

The banning of menthol cigarettes in Massachusetts has also created a booming black market for Newports and Kools but that's an article for another day.

Some have also theorized that the explosion (pun definitely intended) in fireworks could be connected to the recent protests that have occurred since the death of George Floyd. While that is certainly possible, it is less provable and probably less likely to be the case. But we never know.

The noise associated with the fireworks is nerve-wracking for many, especially if you are a pet owner or suffer from PTSD. The weeks leading up to the holiday can seem long.

I suppose it is useless to appeal to the offenders to give folks a break, especially during the late-night hours. We were all kids once and the Fourth only comes once a year.

Those who set off the fireworks often move around from location to location and sometimes toss them from moving vehicles. It's tough for police to track them down. And they have to be caught in the act. The best advice is to report offenses to your local police precinct rather than 911 and be able to provide police with specific information about a location or a vehicle involved.

Other than that, with any luck, it will all be over in just a few weeks.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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