With COVID-19 restrictions loosening and bottle rockets now legal to sell, Fremont firework stands are seeing lots of enthusiastic customers this year.
“Everybody’s been really excited to kind of relive their childhood a little bit and excited to let their kids experience what they were able to experience,” Jason Miller of Bellino Fireworks said. “It’s been really good. A lot of people, they were really excited about that component this year.”
Earlier this year, Sen. Julie Slama of Peru introduced Legislative Bill 152, which broadened the sale of fireworks by adopting Federal Code of Regulation definitions for 1.3G, or “display” fireworks, and 1.4G, or “consumer” fireworks.
The bill was passed on April 29, signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts on May 5 and went into effect five days later.
Under the new law, bottle rockets, a 1.4G firework, can be sold during Nebraska’s designated timeframes of June 24 to July 5 and Dec. 28 to Jan. 1.
“They came in late, so it was a little hard to get them, but we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of stock because everybody comes in and asks about them,” Jason Stevens of The Shack said. “Everybody kind of seems to come in and have to grab a gross just because the novelty of it is so new to everybody in Nebraska.”
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However, Stevens said overall stock for The Shack on 23rd Street has been tough this year. For instance, he said he ordered 36 cases from one vendor, but only received six.
“So when that happened, I just kind of doubled down on everything to make sure I had more than enough product because we just didn’t know what we were going to get,” he said. “But we have more product than we have ever had in the past, so we should be able to make it all the way to the end.”
But for The Shack, Stevens said sales have been going well and that the bottle rockets were a welcome addition to his supply.
“We’ve been in Fremont now for three years, and this is definitely the best start to the season we have ever had,” he said. “Our sales are up pretty significantly so far, so it’s been awesome.”
Colin Bohac of Ka-Boomers Fireworks on South Broad Street in Inglewood said he’s seen bottle rockets sell quickly, as the stand only has a few types remaining.
“A lot of people are coming up here, and they’ve been waiting for 30, 40 years or however long for them to be legalized,” he said. “So they’re enjoying them, that’s for sure.”
Although sales have been a little below last year’s, Bohac said he’s expecting Ka-Boomers to pick up steam going into the weekend.
“The Fourth’s on a Sunday this year, so we’re expecting a lot to have the Monday off and Friday, Saturday, Sunday just having fun with the kids,” he said.
With Bellino Fireworks on 23rd Street, Miller said he hasn’t noticed too much of a difference from last year, but did see anticipation with the sale of bottle rockets.
“Opening day, we went through a lot of bottle rockets, a lot of regular rockets, we got some 8-ounce rockets in there,” he said. “And we actually have sold out of all of them except for the traditional bottle rockets and one other smaller set. It went quickly.”
But regardless of what customers light off, Miller said he’s excited for the festivities this year.
“We’ve been really happy to be out there and experience the Fourth of July with everyone,” he said, “and just hope they enjoy it.”