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Fireworks season starts Thursday

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
June 23, 2010 at 1:23 a.m.

Harold Bellanger and Diana Kruciak stock up Alamo Fireworks before opening day. Fireworks season begins Thursday.

A string of red, white and blue flags fluttered in the wind Wednesday, ushering passersby toward the wooden Alamo Fireworks stand that sat along U.S. Highway 87 N.

But the stand wasn't open just yet.

Texas' summer fireworks season opens Thursday, giving Crossroads residents a chance to stock up on sparklers, poppers, firecrackers and more. The season runs through midnight July 4.

The Alamo stand should be open for business Thursday evening, said Brenda Carlile, the stand's manager. She planned to receive her product shipment Thursday or Friday.

"This is our 12th year doing this, so we pretty much know what to do," she explained. "But it's pretty crazy."

The days leading up to the opening are always busy, filled with unpacking boxes and stocking shelves, said John Svoboda, who runs the Alamo Mega Store off Beck Road. Throughout the season, however, things don't really pick up until the last day or so.

"That's when we'll see our rush," he said. "Usually before that, even though we'll get some people who come in, it's pretty slow."

Victoria County has no burn ban or aerial firework ban in effect this year, said Ron Pray, the Victoria County fire marshal. The area has received adequate moisture.

There are certain safety and legal issues people should pay attention to as the season progresses, however.

Fireworks are not allowed within city limits, he said, and can only be set off in unincorporated areas within the county.

Sparklers are included in the list of items illegal within Victoria city limits, said John Bradley, the city fire marshal. People caught disobeying the ordinance can face two citations, one for possession and another if they're actually caught using the pyrotechnics, he said. When combined, they carry a $350 fine.

Those who do shoot off fireworks in legal areas should follow safety instructions printed on labels, always keep them away from children and observe other safety practices, Pray said.

"We just want everyone to be safe and have a good time," he said.

It isn't just consumers who are held to standards during fireworks season.

Stand operators must also follow guidelines, such as having a working fire extinguisher on hand, an adequate exit and the like. And it's part of Pray's job to visit the stands and make sure they comply.

"Most people know the laws," he said, explaining that, if he does find a violation, it's usually minor.

As for Carlile, she said she's ready to kick-start her season. It's fun, she said, and it's actually the last time she'll find herself running the stand.

Next year, she'll pass it off to her daughter.

"It will be her first year doing it without me present," Carlile said. "But she's ready. She's been doing it for a long time."

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