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SC fireworks business booming with Fourth on a Friday

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/29/17/43/22yYu.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Patrick Smith and Mike Wanner buy fireworks at House of Fireworks off Interstate 77 in Fort Mill, S.C. With Independence Day coming up Friday, store managers are expecting a busy year thanks to a three-day holiday weekend.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/29/17/43/MpeKH.Em.138.jpeg|237
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    While shopping for fireworks, Vinny Slavik and Saiuri Bruce, 7, (the daughter of his neighbor, Bryan Bruce) fight playfully with “victory swords,” which shoot out fireworks and were on the shelves at Red Rocket Fireworks near the state line in the Fort Mill, S.C., area.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/29/17/43/1isMyG.Em.138.jpeg|209
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Sasha Smith, 8, and her mother, Andrea Smith, buy fireworks and are helped by employee Reba Gambrell, 81, who has been working at Red Rocket Fireworks in the the Fort Mill, S.C., area for 15 years. This year, the American Pyrotechnics Association expects the consumer fireworks industry to rake in around $675 million. That would be up $13 million from last year – and it doesn’t even include money spent on fireworks for commercial displays, a figure that amounted to $328 million last year.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/29/17/43/1u06rB.Em.138.jpeg|222
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Mike Wanner and Patrick Smith buy large amounts of fireworks at House of Fireworks on U.S. 21 off Interstate 77 at the state line in the Fort Mill, S.C., area. North Carolinians can’t buy fireworks in their state, but the South Carolina fireworks industry is booming. With the Fourth of July right around the corner, the South Carolina fireworks market attracts customers from both states.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/29/17/43/m82Jj.Em.138.jpeg|209
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Brandon Davis, 9, and his father, Mike Davis, shop for fireworks at House of Fireworks on U.S. 21.

More Information

  • July 4th events: Fireworks, celebrations
  • What’s allowed, what’s not

    Allowed in North Carolina: Sparklers, fountains, smoke devices, snake and glow worms, trick noisemakers such as party poppers, string poppers or snappers, and toy pistol caps.

    Not allowed in North Carolina: Basically, anything that leaves the ground: Explosive or aerial fireworks, Roman candles, rockets or similar devices.

    Sources: American Pyrotechnics Association, city of Charlotte

    Safety tips for the 4th

    According to the Mecklenburg Fire Marshal’s Office, about a third of all fireworks injuries are caused by illegal fireworks.

    If you do plan on lighting fireworks this July 4th, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has these tips:

    Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

    Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

    Never point or throw fireworks at another person.


  • Violations can lead to fine, prison

    According to the Mecklenburg Fire Marshal’s Office, about a third of all fireworks injuries are caused by illegal fireworks.

    In North Carolina, legal fireworks are those generally classified as sparklers, fountains and other novelties.

    Firecrackers, ground spinners, roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars are all illegal in North Carolina.

    Violating a fireworks law is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500 or up to six months in prison.



FORT MILL, S.C.

Just across the state line, the doors to Fort Mill’s fireworks stores stay open all night.

“You never have to be without a sparkler,” said Kim Pyles, manager of Red Rocket Fireworks, which stays open 24/7 in the weeks leading up to the Fourth.

With Independence Day coming up Friday, store managers are expecting a busy year thanks to a three-day holiday weekend.

“We’re excited about it falling on a Friday this year,” said Sharon Martin, manager of House of Fireworks.

Next door, Big Daddy’s Fireworks Castle manager Jeremy Jolly said he’s hoping the Friday date will help with sales. “It’s been slightly down the last couple of years,” Jolly said. “The Fourth was falling in the middle of the week.”

In an annual ritual, fireworks fans from North Carolina head down Interstate 77 before every Fourth of July. They can’t buy or set off the festive explosives in North Carolina, which doesn’t allow any fireworks that leave the ground. But shoppers from North Carolina said they had no worries about getting in trouble with the police because they say the law is not enforced during July 4 celebrations.

Products with names such as Pyro Pandemonium and Quick & Dead line the shelves at the fireworks superstore right off the highway. There’s even a new “Duck Dynasty” firework modeled after the popular show on A&E.

Customer Mike Davis said he’s spent four grand on fireworks before. This year, he’s keeping it to $1,000. For Davis and his son, Brandon, 9, celebrating Independence Day with a bang is a father-son affair. “It’s a guy thing,” Davis said.

And it’s not just any guy, Jolly said. “Middle-aged males,” he said. “That’s your regulars that buy them just for the heck of it.”

Neighbors Vinny Slavik and Bryan Bruce are two of those men. “We’re just big kids,” Slavik said after finishing a sword fight with Bruce’s daughter, Saiuri, 7, in Red Rocket.

Slavik and Bruce are planning a neighborhood get-together – and they say the festivities would not be complete without fireworks. “It’s an American thing,” Bruce said.

This year, the American Pyrotechnics Association expects the consumer fireworks industry to rake in around $675 million. That would be up $13 million from last year – and it doesn’t even include money spent on fireworks for commercial displays, a figure that amounted to $328 million last year.

The Fort Mill shoppers said they’d like to see North Carolina relax its fireworks restrictions. “They’re missing out on taxes,” said Davis.

Customers aren’t the only ones having fun with the approaching holiday. During the school year, Pyles works as a high school teacher in Rock Hill. She said most summer employees at Red Rocket are teachers.

“We really do have a good time,” she said. “We may not see each other all year, but then we come back and sell fireworks together.”

It turns out most of these managers don’t ever get around to shooting them off – they have work to do.

“On the Fourth, all four counters will be open,” said Martin of House of Fireworks. “It’ll be a zoo.”

Adams-Heard: 704-358-5197
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