Local fireworks tent sees decline in shoppers due to dry weather conditions

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Brent Newman, owner of B&L Discount Fireworks, holds up one of his most popular items. High Falutin, which has a total of 196 shots for a nearly four-minute display. Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. – The Fourth of July fireworks craze isn’t quite as busy this year due to dry conditions in the area. 

Brent Newman, owner of B&L Discount Fireworks, said many of his customers are purchasing fireworks with hope that the rain will come before the holiday or with a plan to delay celebrations until it is safe to do so.

Newman and his wife Linda have been setting up their fireworks tent south of Hannibal along U.S. 61 in Ralls County for more than 30 years. Surprisingly, dry conditions haven’t been frequent enough to slow down business.

“The last time a drought affected us was 2012. That was a pretty serious one. It was very dry and affected the sales,” Newman said. “I don’t remember one before 2012 and we’ve been in this for 33 years.”

Hannibal and all of Marion County has been under a burn ban since June 22. Mark Kempker, training officer at Hannibal Fire Department, confirmed on June 27 that the burn ban is still in effect until further notice due to excessively dry conditions with high temperatures and a lack of rainfall.

Kempker also reminded Hannibal residents that shooting off fireworks is illegal in city limits.

“Many cities and counties have ordinances that prevent the discharge of fireworks, including the city of Hannibal,” he said. 

Newman said those in legal areas to shoot fireworks can make safe choices. He pointed to fountains as a popular and safe choice this year.

“Fountains are good for dry conditions. You can set them up on the driveway and control where the sparks go. Other fireworks break in the air and you don’t know where they will fall,” he said.

Newman said The Snow Cone is a fountain selected by many people because it has a lot of different effects and will last a long time. 

A variety of fountains can be found at B&L Discount Fireworks ranging in price from $1.50 to $18.00 depending on how many shots and tubes are in it. 

“The smaller the fountain, the smaller the effect,” Newman said.

He also pointed to children’s items as safe fireworks, as many do not explode or have a lasting flame or fire. Items such as parachutes, snakes and snappers can be a fun way for kids to play it safe.

“Parachutes just have a parachute man coming down,” he said. “Smoke balls, you just sit them on the ground and they don’t go anywhere.”

A new item introduced by Newman is a novelty toy that comes with a firecracker in its mouth. One of those is Puff the Magic Dragon. After the firecracker is lit, Puff will breathe fire for a few moments before exuding purple smoke. Once the display is over, the rubber dragon is unharmed and can be kept as a toy.

Other keepable toys are dinosaurs and unicorns.

For firework displays, Newman said families often choose the 200 gram cakes. One is the Spinosaurus, a new item last year that has been popular. 

“It looks small but has a powerful display,” Newman said. “There are four different sets of dinosaur ones, which are all really good.”

Another 200 gram cake is Dawg Tired, which has a willow effect with different colored tips.

Two longtime favorites of Newman’s customers are the High Falutin and Hit the Road Jack, each arial has a 49 shots for a total of 196 shots to create a nearly four-minute display. 

For a more professional display, Newman also makes three different sizes of custom-built finale packages.

“I take specialized cakes. Each one has something different as an effect. It will start out with one cake, build two cakes then three cakes. At the end there is a lot of stuff that goes off,” he said. “They are all time-fused so they will go off at different times.”

Newman said for those who just want to grab something and go, an assortment pack is a good choice, which will include a variety of items in one package. They go from larger 200 gram displays to packages for children, and prices range from $15 to $200.

“That’s popular with people in a hurry,” he said.

Drawing at B&L Discount Fireworks

They have three different drawings, $250 drawing for kids stuff and $500 drawing for bigger fireworks and then an Apple iPad for those who don’t want fireworks.

People can just come in and scan the QR code and fill in the banks. They will draw on the Fourth of July. 

Safety tips from Mark Kempker, training officer at Hannibal Police Department:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks

Sparklers Are Dangerous

Every year, young children can be found along parade routes and at festivals with sparklers in hand, but sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think.

Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries.

Consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.

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