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Coronavirus pushes fireworks displays to the backyard

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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State regulations that prohibit large gatherings have forced dozens of communities across our region to cancel their Independence Day celebrations, but that also has retail fireworks sales booming.

The vast majority of big fireworks displays in our region are put on by Northstar Fireworks. "We usually do about a 120 shows a year the week of July 4th," said the company's Tom Swenson.

But this year that number has been reduced to only a dozen, which means it's been busier than usual at Northstars Fireworks' two Vermont locations in East Montpelier and St. Johnsbury. Folks are lining up to put on their own fireworks shows.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: Are you concerned by the amount of people who are going to be lighting off their own fireworks this year?

Tom Swenson: Yeah, we are, but we have been trying really hard to educate folks on it.

Josh Fredyma of Bradford says he shelled out more than $500 on fireworks on Wednesday alone. He says he puts on a show every year, but 2020 is different. "This year it's a lot bigger because with the coronavirus, people really don't have any place to go and this is what pitching in and friends helping friends does," he said.

And he's not alone. retails sales are way up across the region, which could lead to big problems. It's estimated that on a normal year, 10,000 people across the country end up in the emergency room after backyard shows go bad. The experts say there are safety measures everyone should be taking.

"Fire extinguisher, soak the board before you light them off -- these are things we do before lighting anything," Fredyma said.

People also need to contact their local town officials to get a permit. "Whether it be the fire department, the selectboard, the police department -- if your town has it. See what the rules are in your town," Swenson said.

The experts say it's also important to respect your neighbors. Public shows usually end no later than 10 p.m. No one wants to hear fireworks going off all night. "We want people to have fun and we want people to enjoy their backyard shows and I think it can be done really safely," Swenson said.

"Everybody stay safe and have a great holiday," Fredyma said.

Northstar is still putting on a handful of shows this weekend, however their locations are not necessarily being advertised to avoid large crowds. Anyone interested in finding out if a fireworks show is going on in their community is asked to contact their local town officials.

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