Firework stands pop up around Aiken for New Year’s, police encourage safety
This Monday will mark the end of 2018, and residents will be celebrating – with many shooting off fireworks to ring in the new year.
New Year’s Eve, being one of only two nights a year that residents expect to hear the explosion of fireworks throughout Aiken County, has firework businesses popping throughout the area. This time of the year also has local law enforcement reminding residents to be safe and know the laws for their areas.
Lt. Jake Mahoney, with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said first and foremost, it’s important for people know whether it’s legal to use fireworks where they live.
Many residents may not realize that fireworks are prohibited in the City of Aiken, according to city codes.
“City of Aiken Code … states that it is unlawful to use, fire, shoot, discharge, sell, offer for sale, store, exchange, give away or possess any fireworks within the city, except as specifically authorized,” Mahoney said.
However, there are two “specifically authorized” types of fireworks that are legal to use within Aiken city limits.
City codes state “sparklers and firecrackers” are authorized as long as they meet the requirements of not being more than ¼-inch in diameter, not being more than 2 inches long and containing no more than four grains of explosive composition.
To see bigger firework displays, city residents are encouraged by Aiken Public Safety to attend public firework displays.
Fines for violating fireworks ordinances can range from $257 to more than $1,000, Mahoney said.
However, most kinds of fireworks can be purchased legally within the city from any of the multiple fireworks stands open for business in the area.
One stand many drivers may have recently noticed is located in front of the Rejoice Fellowship Church at 411 E. Pine Log Road.
Randy Valandingham, minister of Rejoice Fellowship, said he came up with the idea for the fireworks stand as a way to raise funds for the children’s ministry at the church.
“I realized a fireworks stand had the potential to make the church a good bit of money, and, over the years, it really has been a great source of funding – allowing for things like church trips for the kids,” Valandingham said.
The fireworks at Valandingham’s stand are all TNT Fireworks, and they have a guaranteed “no dud policy.”
“Any fireworks bought here that turn out to be a dud can be brought back and replaced at no extra charge,” he said.
Valandingham or his daughter, Isabella, can be found at the stand by anyone looking to purchase high-quality fireworks.
A large selection of fireworks is also available at Wacky Wayne’s located at 2406 Whiskey Road.
Residents still need to be aware that most fireworks purchased at a fireworks stand will likely be prohibited in the city; however, residents can legally set off their fireworks anywhere within the county.
Fireworks are legal in Aiken County, but safety is still heavily stressed by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, which also has offered safety tips for those planning to shoot off fireworks for New Year’s:
• Observe local laws. If someone is unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials.
• Buy from fireworks retailers permitted through the Fire Marshal’s Office.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
• Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
• Use common sense, and always read and follow the directions on each firework.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass and trees.
• Light one firework at a time, and keep a safe distance.
• Never experiment or attempt to make fireworks.
• Never give fireworks to small children.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket.
• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
• Never place any body part directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never reignite malfunctioning fireworks.
• Put used fireworks in a bucket of water; and keep a garden hose on hand.