Rain Puts Damper In Fireworks Sales

Monday, July 2nd 2007, 6:00 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The siege of rain may be causing the grass to grow, but it is shrinking sales of fireworks as Oklahomans prepare to celebrate Independence Day. ``People don't stand out in the rain and buy fireworks,'' said fireworks dealer Rudy Forrest of Choctaw, who supplies fireworks for almost 20 stands and tents in eastern Oklahoma County and one at Breckenridge, east of Enid.

He said sales have been hurt at several of his locations and are probably down about 40 percent over-all.

``It really hasn't killed them,'' Forrest said. ``Every time the rain stops, people come out of the woodwork and want to buy.''

``It's pretty slow right now, but it always is every year. The majority of sales are on the third and fourth, no matter what,'' said Debra Wells, who runs a fireworks stand in far west Oklahoma County.

She guesses her sales are down about 25%.

Wells said one reason parents wait until the last minute to buy firecrackers, rockets, cones and other fireworks is that ``kids drive them crazy'' wanting to start the celebration early if fireworks are around the house.

Both Forrest and Wells say they are not displeased at this point by the heavy rainfall but are hoping for a break in the weather to recoup their investments.

``This time last year we were sweating bullets,'' worrying about a burn ban and the prospects of not being able to sell fireworks at all, Forrest said.

``People are definitely not worried about any fire hazards,'' Wells said.

Although individuals and families cannot legally set off fireworks in Oklahoma City or other cities and towns, some municipalities allow them during specified days in Oklahoma County and elsewhere across the state.

The state collects a $10 permit fee for each retail fireworks establishment and counties also charge fees.

In Oklahoma County, it costs fireworks retailers $200 for each 20 feet of a stand and $300 for a tent where fireworks are sold.

Robert Dokes, state fire marshal, said his office mainly works to make sure public fireworks displays are safe, while municipal and county law officers handle local violations.

Dokes said occasionally his office will respond to a complaint about a fireworks stand selling to young children or selling prohibitive fireworks, but those typically are not fruitful investigations.

He said laws passed decades ago have all but stopped the sale of ``cherry bombs'' and other fireworks that are especially dangerous.

Dokes' office stresses that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend public displays.