Fourth begins with a bang

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Caleb Davidson, an employee of May's Brothers Fireworks, stocks shelves in their Miner location Tuesday (Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)

Fireworks stands offer a variety

MINER -- From the small fireworks -- snap poppers and sparklers -- to the large -- artillery shells and 500-gram cakes -- local fireworks vendors have a variety of displays they can't wait to unleash to residents this Independence Day.

"We're hoping to have a good year. We have lots and lots of varieties to suit everyone's needs," said Lewis Mays of Mays Brothers Fireworks.

One of Mays Brothers biggest sellers this year are the 500-gram-cakes, which is a fireworks made of 500 grams of powder and shoots 36 or more aerial explosions, or flaming balls, explained Mays, who owns the business with his brother, Alfred. Artillery shells are another popular item, he said.

"Black Cat's Cherry Bomb is our No. 1 seller," noted Rachael Groner of Groner's Fireworks. "We have several different varieties and packages available in the Black Cat brand."

In addition, a display that is 150-feet long and has 16,000 firecrackers is available for purchase, said Groner who runs the fireworks display stand with her husband, Jim.

"When you light it, it sounds like a machine gun," Groner said about the large firecracker. "And we do have people who purchase them."

With Fourth of July falling on the weekend this year, sales are expected to be a little higher than usual, noted Groner. Business picks up on the weekends and July 3 and 4 are the vendors most profitable days, the owners agreed.

Thousands of fireworks are on display at both Miner stands so area residents shouldn't have a problem finding what they want, said Groner and Mays. Both owners also emphasized their merchandise is very affordable.

Professional style fireworks, multi-colored fountain fireworks artillery shells, smoke bombs, bottle rockets, missiles, firecrackers and several other fireworks are among the items that fill the tents.

While the newer and bigger fireworks displays tend to sell quickly, the older ones are just as popular.

"We have what we affectionately call the kiddie corner," said Groner. "We've got smoke bombs, 36-inch sparklers, black snakes and a lot more."

Mays said they also have the older fireworks including the sparklers, parachute tubes and snap poppers.

Employees at both fireworks stands are very knowledgeable of fireworks an are well-trained, which can help when someone is looking for a specific firework, the owners pointed out.

But along with the fun should come some responsibility. Both Mays and Groner strongly encouraged adult supervision with all fireworks.

When lighting fireworks that require a stand, Groner recommends using a two-liter soda bottle and cutting off the top. Then fill the bottom with sand or rocks to keep the bottle from tipping over, she said. Also, have a safety plan in case an accident occurs, she added.

"Don't hold it (firework) in your hand and don't throw them," advised Mays employee Shay Mays. "Put fireworks on a flat, level surface and read warnings and package labels before lighting them."

Other safety tips recommended by the Sikeston Department of Public Safety include: not shooting fireworks toward people, animals or buildings, not shooting fireworks from or at vehicles and discharging fireworks away from dry grass, leaves and flammables. Should a fire occur, call the fire department immediately.

"Everyone should exercise care and use common sense when handling fireworks," Sikeston DPS Director Drew Juden said in a recent statement. "Fireworks are still illegal to sell and discharge within the city limits of Sikeston."

The Sikeston DPS will take necessary action to enforce these laws, Juden said. He recommended residents go outside the city limits to shoot their fireworks to avoid tickets or confiscation of their fireworks, adding that all confiscated fireworks are put in water and destroyed.

"By following the simple precautions," Juden said in the statement, "everyone can contribute to a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July."

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