SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Towns all across America lit up with fireworks displays Friday to pay homage to the nation's birth on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. But whenever pyrotechnics are involved, accidents are never far behind. Injuries and property damage from poorly staged events regularly make the news each year. That's why the strangest Fourth of July story involves a group of foreign tourists who accidentally ended up in the middle of a gang war in Los Angeles, but found the standoff stimulating, historically educational and absent any injuries or chaos.
"Freedom isn't free," quipped Sgt. Ren Williams, San Narciso Police Department spokesperson. "And in many cases, these spectacles are not incident-free. There was a time when average citizens and homesteaders were willing to lay down their lives to protest British oppression, to throw off the shackles of European servitude. So I feel that a July 4 without a few scrapes, bruises and second-degree burns is a bit of a letdown."
The tourists were originally en route to San Narciso for the county's unique "America's Independence from International Co-dependence Day" salute. Local officials call it the only honest American celebration.
"There was a delegation of Irish and Pakistani tourists who expressed strong interest in our all-American tribute," San Narciso Mayor Manny DiPresso said. "Somehow, their bus took a wrong turn, probably around the North Viaduct area, and ended up in a very unsavory part of Los Angeles. Boyle Heights, I believe."
But members of the group, prior to their rescue by LAPD officers, thought they were watching a typical Independence Day event. "When we got there, we were immediately impressed by the war reenactment," said Bilal Pitafi, the representative leading the visitors from Pakistan.
"It seemed so very American," he explained. "People of different races were fighting for their right to control territory that each claimed dominion over. Then they started shooting, which was very dramatic. Everybody had a gun. Because in America, everybody must carry a firearm. The blood looked quite real, too. And they all represented a variety of religions, which is also a big part of America's melting pot. We saw all manner of iconic holy jewelry -- there were crucifixes, crescents and stars, iron crosses, svastikas and even some satanic pentagrams. This is what makes America great, yes?"
When the firefight broke out, the tourists applauded, believing the violence to be part of a fireworks display. Some spectators, those with military experience in Northern Ireland and Pakistan, even took notes, according to witnesses. The Irish delegation called the turf war "stirring and patriotic," but expressed disappointment at missing the simulated attacks on Parliament that were taking place in San Narciso.
Police reported that none of the tourists sustained any injuries from the gunfire, knives, raping or hand-to-hand combat. The gang members taken into custody described their unexpected visitors as "polite, enthusiastic and eager to learn."
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