Fireworks flying off the shelf

The Fourth of July is fast approaching and soon people across the nation will be celebrating our country’s independence with picnics, barbecues, parades and fireworks. Stores outside the Minot city limits have been selling fireworks since last Thursday.

Rick Vondal, owner of North 83 Fireworks, across the highway from Job Service North Dakota, said sales at the store have been steady. As of Sunday, they were at the halfway point in the nine days of being allowed to sell fireworks, he added. Fireworks stores can continue selling through July 5.

At North 83 Fireworks, people seem to be spending a little less on fireworks this year as compared to last year, Vondal said. “We haven’t had much of a summer and the weather hasn’t been very summer-like, so people may not have realized that the Fourth of July is coming up soon,” he said.

According to the fire code adopted under city ordinance, fireworks are not permitted in the city of Minot. People living within the city limits may store fireworks in their houses or transport them in car trunks, but the ordinance bans selling and using fireworks within the city limits. The ban on fireworks is to prevent the possibility of fires and fire calls and to avoid noise and mischief complaints. Anyone found violating the city ordinance on fireworks will receive an $150 fine.

“As soon as the first day (of fireworks stores opening) starts, people are out buying fireworks,” Vondal said. “For some people, the Fourth of July is their Christmas and they’ll spend more money on fireworks than on Christmas presents.”

There haven’t been any specific types of fireworks that have been flying off the shelves that Vondal has noticed yet, but he said a lot of families have been coming in to the store. “They’ll buy a variety of kid-oriented or colorful ones without big bangs,” he added.

Some common safety tips Vondal noted were to always pay attention to what kids are doing and to make sure there is water nearby since explosives are involved. “Always read the directions on the label, too,” he cautioned.

Memory Fireworks, which has locations across the state, also has two locations in the Minot area, one at 5308 S. Broadway near the Walmart Super Center, and the other with a warehouse north of the Minot International Airport. Business at the north Memory Fireworks location has been steady so far, according to staff member and self-proclaimed pyrotechnics expert Josh Brosten. They expect sales to pick up closer to the Fourth, he said.

“It seems like people are spending a lot this year,” Brosten observed. “A lot of the guys come in and they’re like a kid in the candy store.”

As for the city ordinance, Brosten added that there are certain limits on what people can bring onto the Minot Air Force Base and people are not allowed to light off fireworks within 300 feet of the Memory Fireworks building.

Popular fireworks that have been sold so far at Memory Fireworks have included all of the Memory and Dakota Series, exploding rainbows, M-24s and the Minot Magic Battling Elk, Brosten said. The Minot Magic Battling Elk, part of the Dakota series, boasts 25 shots and twisty tails that erupt in a purple hue and end with 10 shots for the finale.

At Memory Fireworks, Brosten said he and his fellow employees test new products around 10 o’clock each night during their nine days of operation. “People come and watch the fireworks and we’re open until midnight, so then after people can come into the store and buy the fireworks they like.”