Firework operators hope for busy retail season

Lauren Hernandez By Lauren Hernandez

Dec. 28, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.
Updated Dec. 29, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Eli Milner, 21, stands in the window of Mr. W Fireworks as a car drives by on U.S. 59 just outside  Victoria. Milner said he expects business for New Year's Day to pick up toward the end of the week.

Eli Milner, 21, stands in the window of Mr. W Fireworks as a car drives by on U.S. 59 just outside Victoria. Milner said he expects business for New Year's Day to pick up toward the end of the week.   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

The weight of the shopping cart grew as Edna resident Lois Rose perused the products at the Alamo Fireworks Megastore on 29 Beck Road East in Victoria County.

Rose and her 10-year-old grandson, Bennett, were looking for fireworks for New Year's Eve.

"Our family gets together every year and puts on our own display at our ranch in Edna," Rose said.

Megastore operator John Svoboda explained to Rose the power of one of the most popular items in her cart, the Fierce Fury.

"It is a show in itself with 192 shots and just one fuse to light," Svoboda said.

With a variety of small and large fireworks, Rose said they are shopping for it all.

"Each year, we see what we like and get a variety of fireworks to try out, and we have fun," Rose said.

The demand for fireworks is resparking sales as residents plan to celebrate the new year with a bang.

Svoboda has seen the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve seasons come and go during the 18 years he has been running the megastore.

"As far as I know, we are the only megastore of this size between Houston and Corpus Christi," Svoboda said.

Rebekah Martinez, manager and cashier, said the weather can determine how busy the season will be.

"Sometimes people will come by last-minute to wait and see what the weather will be like on New Year's Eve," Martinez said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the high temperature in the area on New Year's Eve will be in the upper 50s with lows in the lower 30s along with a 30- to 40-percent chance of rain. The weather service said colder air is expected in the region on New Year's Day with a high temperature in the upper 30s and a low temperature in the upper 20s.

San Antonio native Matt Hanson braves the cold as he runs an Alamo Fireworks stand at 9445 U.S. 59 N.

"It usually doesn't get busy until the 30th, so we have about 15 people a day right now," Hanson said.

Down the road, Lori Hernandez just set up the Mr. W Fireworks stand at 4217 S.W. Moody St., hoping the cold weather doesn't keep customers away.

"We're hoping that more people will come by as it gets closer to New Year's Eve," Hernandez said.

While business is slowly picking up before the holiday weekend, popular trends have already surfaced.

"One of our most popular products are the voodoo balls that shoot large, colorful fireworks," Hanson said.

Most of the time, customers look for large aerial displays, but Svoboda said their section of novelty items has a great selection for children.

"We have a hen that inflates a little balloon when you light it and makes it look like an egg coming from the chicken," Svoboda said.

Both Hanson and Svoboda agree that products such as Roman candles sell fast, but so will most of their stock by the time the clock strikes midnight.

"At least 90 percent of this stuff will be gone by the time New Year's Eve is over," Hanson said.

Svoboda said most of the packaging and bags they sell have a set of firework safety suggestions to follow.

"We stress the safety of fireworks to our customers because we want people to go out and enjoy them, not get crazy with them," Svoboda said.

Discharging fireworks in Victoria's boundaries is illegal and is considered a Class C misdemeanor.

"Those who possess or discharge fireworks in the city will have them confiscated and be given a citation up to $2,000," said Victoria Fire Marshal Tom Legler.

Patriot Park will be open on New Year's Eve for residents to pop fireworks from 5:30 p.m. until midnight if the weather permits.

"It makes it a better environment and gives people a place to go to ring in the new year," said Victoria County Fire Marshal Richard Castillo.

Since the county gave residents access to pop fireworks in the park, Victoria County Commissioner Gary Burns said more people come out each year.

"It's like a free fireworks show that brings everyone in one place, and ever since we've been doing it, it's worked out well," Burns said.

Another safety concern is people firing off guns in the air at midnight.

Legler said it isn't common in the area, but it's important to understand that it's very dangerous in and outside city limits.

"What goes up must comes down, and there is no control of where it will end up," Legler said.

The Victoria County Fire Marshal's Office, the Victoria County Fire Department and the Victoria County Volunteer Fire Department will be at the park to ensure the safety of the residents.

"We strongly recommend to go shoot fireworks at the park, and we will be out there to maintain a safe community and a safe New Year's Eve," Legler said.


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