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Fireworks Sales: Maine Revelers to Celebrate Holiday with a Bang
07/03/2013   Reported By: Keith Shortall

It's no surprise, perhaps, that fireworks retailers in Maine are reporting that sales are skyrocketing in these last few hours before the July 4th holiday. Many consumers will spend hundreds of dollars stocking up on things that soar, sparkle and go boom. This morning, Keith Shortall paid a visit to Edgecomb's "Pyro City" store, which is offering a package called "The Godfather" at a reduced price - of just $475.

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Fireworks of all kinds line the shelves at the Pyro City store in Edgecomb.

By about 10:00 a.m., Pyro City on Route 1 in Edgecomb was catering to about a half-dozen customers perusing the stocked aisles of what was once a Dexter Shoe outlet. Manager Ken Tambellini says little kids love sparklers, just as they did before Maine legalized fireworks last year. And there's an adult market as well.

"As a matter of fact I've had already this year, in the past month or two, I've had three different parties come in here to buy sparklers specifically for their weddings, because they want to incorporate sparklers while the bride and groom are exchanging their vows," Tambellini says. "So its really kinda cool."

Keith Shortall: "But if you want a little something extra in your sparkler?"

Ken Tambellini: "If you want something a little extra in your sparklers, you want the Morning Glories, and they come in several different sizes. The thirty-six inch is really popular, but the Morning Glories change color three different phases, three different times, so you get more color out of that. And I think the kids really - that's what they're looking for. They want more color than just the regular gold or silver sparkler."

IMG_1810Sparklers sell for just a dollar. Bigger colors, bigger bangs, cost more. The best bang for the buck, says Tambellini, is called an "All-in-36 Shot Cake," which sells for about $6.

"When we were trying to stock these last year, people were taking them out of the boxes - that's how fast they were selling," Tambellini says. "I have already personally here gone through about almost 30 cases of these already."

Keith Shortall: "What does it do?"

Ken Tambellini: "It's got 36 aerial shots - you light it once and it's going to shoot 36 shots up in the air - some will probably go about 40, 50 feet up. You're going to get reports and whistles and tails and color, so it's a nice little variety for the size cake that it is."

Keith Shortall: "So you can do that in the backyard?"

Ken Tambellini: "It's something you can do, as long as you have a least a 40-foot clearance. You don't want trees above it when you're lighting this off. You just want to make sure you've got a nice overhead clear, and then the 40-feet clearance. And then and you want this on a hardest surface, the hardest surface the better - usually we recommend tar or concrete. It's nice and flat. If you have to do it on the grass, which is not recommended, you want to make sure you get a hard piece of plywood down and put that down and then peel your fuse off to the side, light it, and then you want to get back, like I said, anywhere between 20 to 40 feet."

Tambellini says customers must be 21 years of age to buy even sparklers, and he says his staff provides instructions on how to use all the products safely.

"They ask us for advice, and we put in every bag a safety brochure that even has it in there, so we try to tell people, but if we miss something, they can look at that safety brochure in the bag and it has all the safety tips that they need to follow in order to light these off correctly."

Audio from instructional safety video: "Light only one firework at a time. Never have a body part over a firework. And keep you spectators at a safe distance."

Instructional safety videos are also playing on monitors around the store.

Audio from safty video: "Stay mindful of good common sense, like never throwing or pointing fireworks at other people, never carrying fireworks in your pocket and never shooting fireworks in metal or glass containers. Take fireworks safety seriously, and your celebration can be serious fun."

IMG_1808Serious fun can cost some serious money. A large packaged collection of fireworks, marketed as "The Godfather," sells for $475, which Tambellini says is less than half of what it sold for last year.

"Roughly this is going to weigh just under 200 pounds, and it's got close to 60 different items," he says. "And we've had a customer time himself - basically just lighting it one after other, but not going too fast, just a regular pace, one after another, and it took him about three-and-half hours to complete the whole thing."

Tambellini says before you attempt something like "The Godfather" - or any fireworks in your backyard - you should contact your local city hall or town office to make sure they are allowed. And, of course, he says, make sure it's okay with your neighbor.


View the state of Maine's list of local fireworks ordinances.

Photos: Keith Shortall


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