Fireworks stands prepare for New Year’s festivities
Ector County fireworks stands are open for business to help residents welcome the new year with a bang.
Vendors like Mr. W Fireworks on University Boulevard opened their doors Wednesday morning to kick off firework sales. Tony Dennis serves as the stands operator but is also a pastor for the Agape Dream Center church. He said fireworks stands have served as a key fundraiser for the church for about 15 years.
“That’s our primary reason for doing it now is just to help send kids to camp,” Dennis said.
Dennis estimated sales are about 75 percent lower during the winter than they are during the month of July because smaller fireworks like sparklers are more popular for New Year’s Eve. He said that although sales will not reach the same level as July, purchases made still contribute to the $150-$200 cost needed for a single child to attend an in-state church camp.
“We’ll still do a good sale because people like to bring in the new year with fireworks,” he said.
Dennis said that the University Boulevard location during this time of year does not see many customers in the days following Christmas, but by Dec. 31 the store will require up to 40 workers to meet demand. The store will be available to the public until midnight on Jan. 1.
Law enforcement officials are reminding the community to keep safety in mind while celebrating during the holiday. Sheriff Mike Griffis said residents should use caution and common sense when handling fireworks to avoid injury and property damage.
“It’s absolutely illegal to light fireworks inside the city limits and it’s illegal for people to light them in the middle of the roadway,” Griffis said.
City of Odessa laws state it is illegal to sell or explode fireworks within city limits. One violation was issued on Jan. 1, 2018 for fireworks usage in city limits, a class C misdemeanor, and the individual was fined $416, City of Odessa Public Information Coordinator Andrea Goodson said.
“Another issue,” Goodson said, “is a lot of people like to shoot a gun off at midnight. That’s illegal as well.”
Griffis said the county has not had any major incidents for New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July in the past couple of years, but increased patrol will be in place to ensure residents are safe.
“One spark can travel and set off a large fire,” Goodson said. “If people are going to go out in the county where it is legal, they need to make sure they have permission of the property owner to shoot off the fireworks and they need to make sure they have a water source nearby that way if something does go wrong they can quickly extinguish a fire that starts.”