Fireworks stands wait out the New Year's 'storm'

Dec. 29, 2010 at 6:29 a.m.

The sun reflected off of leftover rain drops dripping down an "Alamo Fireworks" sign Wednesday afternoon while Erb and Sonja Strong enjoyed the calm before the storm.

"The worst is yet to come," Erb said.

He was referring to the more proverbial storm - that of last-minute fireworks shoppers.

"We're just waiting for the madness," his wife said.

The couple were first-timers, manning a fireworks stand just outside the city limits on U.S. Highway 59 South.

Business had been steady the past few days, but Sonja said customers have warned her - just as the stores bustle with Christmas procrastinators, so do New Year's Eve fireworks stands.

"Tomorrow is going to be a real zoo," Sonja said. "They say there will be no place to park."

The Corpus Christi couple said the county's fire marshal warned them traffic would be backed up on the highway in the coming days.

"The city of Victoria has an ordinance that prohibits fireworks in the city limits. They typically wait before they're going to go out and shoot before they buy them," County Fire Marshal Ron Pray said.

Across town, at the Alamo Fireworks warehouse on U.S. Highway 59 North, Brian Whitton and his son, Preston, weren't about to wait until then.

Whitton was making his third purchase, each from different stores, having stopped at the warehouse on his way home to Aransas Pass.

"We try to do this every year," he said while his 12-year-old son perused the racks.

Whitton said he thinks the fireworks shows on New Year's Eve top those on the Fourth of July.

"Everybody's more in the spirit and have more time off from their jobs," he said. "But I don't need a reason to celebrate."

The distributor at the firework warehouse, John Svoboda, agreed that New Year's brings more business.

"It's a little bit more of an exciting season," the 11-year veteran to fireworks sales said. "It's that time of year."

Svoboda also agreed with the Strongs when it comes to the hectic last-minute rush.

"When I get out of here, I'm real tired from the last three days."

So far, though, this year's business has been up thanks to the amount of rainfall Victoria has had, Svoboda said.

The rain has allowed people to feel safer shooting off fireworks, he said.

Still, Svoboda voluntarily pulled stick rockets this year, which are more of a fire hazard.

But Preston didn't seem to miss the rockets too much.

He beamed as his dad paid for the two shopping carts pouring over with pyrotechnics.

New Year's was no doubt better than July Fourth, he said. But is it better than Christmas?

"Pretty much to me, yeah," he said, pulling the wagon full of goodies through a muddy parking lot.



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