Central Texas firework stands still struggling from the summer’s burn bans

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 10:58 AM CST
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ELM MOTT, Texas (KWTX) - With New Year’s Eve firework celebrations coming up, fire work stands are still feeling the heat after burn bans shuttered their doors two weeks before the Fourth of July.

Dan Fitzgerald, who owns Stars and Stripes Fireworks in Elm Mott, said he has not seen a firework season like this one in over a decade. He said, because McLennan County enforced a burn ban a few weeks before the Fourth, he had already stocked up on inventory to sell for the holiday.

“There was a ban in the middle of the fireworks season last Fourth of July,” Fitzgerald said. “Those operators that owned their own inventory had to sit on that inventory until this season.”

Fitzgerald said he had thousands of dollars in fireworks that he had to hold on to for six months, and, while he did not have to purchase any new fireworks from distributors for the New Year’s Eve season, he did have another challenge with the inventory.

“With the Christmas season and the New Year’s season, the sales are about half or a third of what you would normally sell over July Fourth, so we’ll be lucky to break even this year,” he said. “Most stand operators are going to show a loss this year.”

Fitzgerald sells more fireworks during the summer than the winter; therefore, his inventory was about three times more than it would normally be during the New Year’s Eve season.

He did say many Central Texans were excited to bring fireworks back after the summer without them.

“We’ve seen customers come in the store and say, ‘Oh man, I tried to buy my fireworks after it got banned,’ and they were disappointed at that,” Fitzgerald said. “So, they came in and bought early this season, and so we’re seeing some of that.”

However, Fitzgerald does not think it will be enough to make a profit in 2022.

“We’re expecting to take a loss,” he said. “I mean, we’ll make money in the Christmas season, but it won’t be enough to pay for all of the investment in the inventory.”

He said him and his staff are still preparing for some busy nights ahead with customers making last-minute firework purchases.

Hamilton is the only county in Central Texas that still has a burn ban in effect. Popping fireworks in most city limits is illegal, and, if you are in a legal area, Fitzgerald wanted to remind residents to be responsible with shooting fire works, including keeping it away from homes, dry patches and people.