With fewer fireworks shows to attend this year, more people are turning to local fireworks stores to put on their own displays, according to Joe Wampler, owner of Best Price Fireworks.
Since opening the store Memorial Day weekend, Wampler said shoppers started earlier than ever, and traffic has been up considerably. While that’s good news for the small business owner, Wampler said some of these customers haven’t used fireworks in decades, and he’s been working to educate them on fireworks and safety guidelines.
“People are still going to have fireworks to watch whether they go to a public show or buy them themselves, and if they don’t have the option to go to a public show, they’re going to buy them themselves,” he said. “We just hope that people use good judgment and common sense, and injury numbers stay down because we’ve had people come in who haven’t bought fireworks in 30 years. Fireworks have evolved so much in the last five years, let alone 30 years. Before, you were lighting something, and you kind of knew what it was going to do. Now you can light something, and it’ll knock your socks off.”
Fireworks have changed significantly even since Wampler opened his shop 18 years ago. At that time, the only fireworks that were considered legal in Indiana were sparklers and fireworks that stayed close to the ground. The rest were considered out-of-state fireworks, and buyers had to sign waivers, saying they’d take them out of state to set them off.
In 2006, a law passed, making the bigger, brighter, and louder fireworks legal so long as they were set off private property during designated times.
Due to the variety available now, Wampler said shoppers should ask about the fireworks they’re buying. At Best Price Fireworks, customers can watch videos of what certain fireworks do and find videos them themselves on Facebook at “Best Price Fire Works.”
Knowing what a firework is supposed to do, Wampler said, can prevent injuries.
Some of the most popular fireworks are large cakes that shoot off multiple shots, anywhere from nine shots to 221. Anyone using cakes, Wampler said, must pin them with a block on either side to keep them from jumping, tipping over, and shooting fireworks out into crowds.
Roman candles also are popular, but Wampler doesn’t sell many as they’re one of the most dangerous fireworks on the market. The candlestick-shaped firework is designed to eject multiple exploding shells, and it’s been banned in some countries and is illegal in multiple U.S. states.
“Roman candles are dangerous because you’re already holding a firework in your hand that shoots a projectile, which makes it extremely dangerous because you have the tendency, if you have something in your hand, you want to point it at somebody,” he said.
Wampler discouraged people from lighting and shooting any type of firework out of their hands. Firecrackers also are dangerous for this reason. In cases where injuries occur with firecrackers, most of the users were lighting them in their hands.
Wampler also cautioned people from using metal sparklers.
“Metal sparklers burn so hot that some people in the tree-cutting industry and logging industry carry them in their backpacks or survival packs. You can literally cut your leg off with a metal sparkler,” he said.
Instead, he recommended using wood-burning sparklers.
With the number of fireworks on the market today, Wampler said people are able to have respectable fireworks shows right from home. This year, Wampler was excited about a brand-new firework dubbed “Open Sesame.” The pinwheel-and-fountain-in-one is meant to look like a genie coming out of a bottle. Other new fireworks he said will impress were Pigtown, Mixed Breed, and Virus Alert.
“We have over 300 items, which is one of the largest selections in the state, more variety than ever. We pride ourselves on having Kokomo’s largest selection,” he said.
Best Price Fireworks is located at 413 E. Center Road and on S.R. 931 next to Buffalo Wild Wings. Mention “Taylor Godfrey” at checkout, and a portion of sales will be donated to the Godfrey family to help with medical bills.