Drought affects fireworks sales

POSTED: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 3:45pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 6:36pm

Could the drought take the “bang!” out of the Fourth of July? Some local firefighters say yes. NBC33 caught up with a local fireworks distributor who says he’s hopeful the burn ban won’t dry up business.

More than 400 different types of explosive favorites line the shelves of Gulf Coast Fireworks in Denham Springs. “We have Roman Candles, Smoke Balls, all the natural things that people love,” says manager Joey Atol.

Firework sales have been the family business for nearly a century. “I’ve been in it all my life. Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper,” he says.

It seems like every year, the weather threatens to hurt that business. “We fight this every year. We fight this every Fourth of July,” says Atol. “I remember, years ago, our employees went out on the docks and drew rain symbols on the dock, trying to pray for rain to come.”

This year, local firefighter, Eldon Ledoux, says folks should be careful about letting sparks fly. “Under this high heat and these conditions, it would be incredibly dangerous thing to do.”

Atol says he knows there’s a reason for the concern, but he wants his customers to stick around. If sales are slow on the 4th, the effects will last into next year. “The retailer is not going to move as much product as he should, so he’s not going to need as much for next season,” he says.

Atol is optimistic that won’t happen. “We’re always going to have our rain, and we’re not going to have anything to worry about,” he says with the hope that Louisiana residents will celebrate Independence Day with a bang.

State Fire Marshal, Butch Browning, says the banning of fireworks is a parish decision because the dryness varies across the state. He says some parishes are looking into it, but decisions probably won’t be made until closer to the holiday. As always, fireworks are not allowed in East Baton Rouge parish.
 

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