Fireworks giving residents bang for the buck

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Jul 01, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Catherine DiFazio chooses a popper firework while shopping at the TNT Fireworks tent with her parents.

Justin Louk opened Waynesville’s TNT fireworks stand last Thursday and has been bracing himself for a booming Fourth of July business.

TNT Fireworks, located on South Main Street across from Walmart, is the primary fireworks vendor in Haywood County.

Though fireworks sales were sporadic last week, Louk said he expected to stay busy the week of the Fourth.

“It’s been kind of busy considering we just started,” Louk said. “I’m expecting a lot of people will come out on (July) second, third and fourth.”

Louk, who is operating the stand for the first time, said patriotic spirit made him want to take over the tent.

“There’s usually a tent here every year, but the people who usually do it could not this year,” Louk said. “I’ve always loved fireworks at a young age so I thought it would be neat to sell it and help people enjoy them.”

State law requires a person to be 16 or older to purchase fireworks. However, TNT Fireworks offers plenty of options for children.

In general, sparklers, fountains and novelty fireworks that do not explode or are not intended to spin or to leave the ground and fly through the air are permitted for non-professional use in North Carolina.

Louk, of Waynesville, said he had been selling a number of sparklers, smoke bombs, Pop-Its and several $20 grab bags, which include a variety of novelties.

“We see a lot of families coming in and the children will beg their parents to buy something,” Louk said.

The prices for fireworks sold at the tent range from $1 to $149. Louk said the bigger variety packages were the best deal for customers.

Louk also said residents should be cautious with any type of fireworks this year.

“Anything that leaves the ground, we can’t have,” Louk said. “And the State Troopers are going to be on the lookout this year.”

Katherine Crocker, of Canton, said she visited the fireworks stand this year to purchase sparklers.

“They are so much fun and not as dangerous as the others,” she said, pointing out the longer sparklers that won’t burn your hands.

Crocker said she and her boyfriend sometimes bought fireworks to set off outside their home.

“We have set off smoke bombs and fountains before,” Crocker said. “And of course we have the sparklers. We will probably just go see the big fireworks at the show this year.”

Though state laws limit a large portion of fireworks, Haywood County officials are still encouraging residents to be cautious.

A press release from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office states that only professionals should handle fireworks.

Firecrackers, ground spinners, bottle rockets, roman candles, and aerial fireworks are illegal to sell or possess in North Carolina without a professional permit, according to the release.

The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission reports that nearly 9,000 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fireworks a year.

The release also urges residents using fireworks to always follow instructions, wear eye protection, keep a supply of water close by, light only one firework at a time and never relight a “dud,” and never throw or point a firework toward a person, animals or flammable materials.

Residents also should stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays, and store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Residents should leave the area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

“Following these precautions will help the children and citizens of Haywood County stay safe and healthy this holiday weekend and throughout the summer,” Sheriff Greg Christopher noted.