Fireworks stand operators hope for booming business (video)


June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.
Updated June 30, 2013 at 1:30 a.m.

Gearing up for opening day can be stressful for any business - even if that business is only open a few days.

Just ask Jessica Aebly.

Aebly operates two Victoria County fireworks stands, which, by law, are open only 24 days of the year. And between a death in the family, an out-of-town wedding, a fried cellphone and the chaos that comes with stocking up, she said she's more than a little tired.

"If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all," she said with a laugh. "This fireworks stand better be good this year."

Stand operators across the Lone Star State began opening their doors Monday for the 11-day summer season, which spans through the Fourth of July.

And Crossroads operators say they're ready to help area residents - and those passing through - celebrate Independence Day with a bang.

John Svoboda, who runs the Alamo Fireworks Megastore on 29 Beck Road East, said he makes it a point to open for business the first day of the season. Many times, he said, that means a mad rush in the days leading up to it.

"We've had years we've opened before the prices were loaded into our registers. We had to do it manually," he said. "It can be stressful, but we enjoy it."

While customer traffic doesn't really pick up until right before the holiday, Svoboda said the store's location along the highway has already drawn some shoppers in.

The good thing is, he said, fireworks cater to any budget.

"You can spend $40 or $50 and have a nice kids' show," he said. "Others spend super dollars, though, and really go all out."

Brian Medellin said he and his family typically spend about $100 on fireworks each year. It's enough for a nice show, he said, but doesn't go overboard.

The truck driver, who lives in Victoria but works in Goliad, said his children make the fireworks worth it.

"They love it," he said. "Just looking at their faces when they go off - it's great."

Not everyone feels the need to set off their own fireworks on America's big day, however.

Holly Butler, a Yorktown correctional officer, said she enjoyed shooting them off when she was younger. Although she still enjoys a good fireworks show today - it's entertainment she said one only gets a few times a year - she said she feels there are better ways to spend her money.

"If I'm going to spend money on something pretty, I'd rather spend it on something pretty that I can keep," she said. "It just makes more sense."

Fireworks - including sparklers - are not permitted within the Victoria city limits, said Tom Legler, Victoria city fire marshal. And, although a new law says the city can't confiscate fireworks still wrapped in their original packaging, officials can still write tickets.

Punishment for possession or shooting fireworks within city limits is a Class C citation, Legler said, and a person can face up to $2,000 in fines per offense.

Meanwhile, it is legal for people to shoot fireworks in Victoria County, as long as they are on private property with the landowner's permission, said Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray. Unlike previous years, there is no ban on aerial fireworks.

Fire personnel will also be on hand at Saxet Lake Park on Thursday for those who want to safely celebrate with sparklers, firecrackers and the like.

Pray spent last week conducting mandatory safety inspections at the stands. It can be a tricky task, he said, because not everyone opened at the season's start.

"I found a couple on the 25th and some on the 26th," he said. "They could even wait until the fourth, if they wanted. Even though the season begins 10 days before the holiday, there's no requirement saying they have to open."

Tommy Burger stocked up his Big Tex stand off U.S. Highway 77 North and opened for business Tuesday. Still, some shoppers were ready to make their purchases before he was ready to allow them.

"I had one customer I turned away because we weren't stocked," he said.

Burger, now on his fourth year of sales but his first year for the Fourth of July season, said running the stand brings plenty of work but not necessarily hard work. Even the scorching Texas heat, he said, won't be too big of an issue.

He, along with his family and three dogs, occupy an on-site trailer throughout the season.

"We'll be OK," he said.



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