Fourth of July sizzle – or fizzle?

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Fireworks illegal in most cities
If you’re planning to celebrate with fireworks this weekend, make sure you’re doing it legally.
Most cities have made fireworks illegal except under special permit for exhibitions. Public safety is the major factor: The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that some 7,000 Americans were injured by fireworks in 2008, including at least seven who were killed.
“We can’t forget that fireworks are small-class explosives and will do damage,” said Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin.
The chance of fire is another safety threat from fireworks.
“Generally in cities, your houses are closer together, so there’s a higher chance of igniting somebody else’s property,” Martin said.
Across Northeast Mississippi, all fireworks are illegal in Amory, Corinth, New Albany, Pontotoc and Tupelo. Houston and Oxford prohibit exploding fireworks, while Ripley has no fireworks ordinance on the books.
Before going outside the city limits, check with county law enforcement to make sure what’s allowed and what’s not.

By Dennis Seid
Daily Journal
SALTILLO – The Nettleton Church of Jesus Christ is offering more bang for the buck – at least until Sunday.
For a fundraiser, the church has been selling fireworks inside tents set up in Saltillo and Ripley.
But business has been a bit slow, said Cynthia Colburn, who was waiting for customers to snap up bottle rockets, artillery shells and maybe a Roman candle or three for the Fourth of July weekend.
“We expect things to pick up, though, especially the last two days,” she said.
Charlie Howard certainly hopes so.
Howard is trying to raise money for his South Panola High School basketball team and through Wednesday, the results haven’t been very encouraging. He and team members have been selling fireworks since June 17 at an empty store across from the Sprint Mart on Veterans Boulevard in Tupelo.
“We’re raising money to buy uniforms, which are pretty expensive,” Howard said. “I think we’ve sold enough to buy maybe one. But I’m told that things will get busier, that there are a lot of last-minute shoppers. I hope that’s the case.”
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to celebrate the Fourth even though the country is in the midst of a recession. But the NRF’s research didn’t reveal if American consumers planned to buy more fireworks.
Colburn said customers in Saltillo “are spending about $30 to $40, with some spending more than $100 or $200.”
Meanwhile, a report this week said some cities across the country are scaling back their Independence Day celebrations because of cost considerations.
But that’s not necessarily the case in Northeast Mississippi. Fireworks shows are planned in Tupelo, Starkville and Oxford.
“We’re spending the same amount of money we did last year,” said Leigh Ann Mallory of the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department. “We’ve got the same people and the show’s going to be about 20 minutes again. Nothing’s changed.”

Open for business
Henry Montes agrees nothing has changed.
“People are going to wait until the last minute,” said Montes, who’s been selling fireworks for 18 years around Northeast Mississippi. “They always do.
For the Fourth, he has four Orbit Fireworks stands – one outside Tupelo on Highway 6, one in Verona and two spots in Pontotoc.
While customer traffic has trickled in the first half of the week, he said it’s par for the course.
“It’s coming around – it’s about the same as it’s been,” he said. “And it helps that the Fourth of July is on a Saturday. They’ll have all day (today) and Saturday to shop.”
And to make sure nobody misses out, Montes is keeping his fireworks stands open 24 hours through Sunday.
Howard isn’t open that long, but is cautiously optimistic that customers will be buying.
“You can’t go celebrating the Fourth without fireworks,” he said with a laugh.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.