Missouri residents can start buying fireworks again, and those who sell fireworks are worried sales could be more fizzle than sizzle since prices of the fireworks have literally skyrocketed.
By state law, seasonal sales of fireworks began Monday and will extend through July 10, and there are businesses that have a year-round license to sell fireworks.
One of those with a year-round license is Paul Bax, who owns Bax Fireworks on Pleasant Hill Road. He's been selling fireworks since 1999.
"I'm up in the air as to how we'll do this year," Bax said.
He was pleased at the end of the 2020 seasonal sales because, "people were tired of being cooped up and staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They wanted to get out and do something, and with many fireworks shows canceled, they decided to shoot off fireworks at their homes."
Plus, Bax noted, people also had money from stimulus checks they could use to spend on things like fireworks.
"Now we have the increases in fuel prices and inflation, and I just don't know how that will affect people's spending," Bax said.
The increases at the gas pumps can also be seen in the cost of fireworks, Bax said.
"Unfortunately we've seen a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in just one year," Bax said. "And I'm afraid there will be another increase next year. We still have to get some control over shipping prices. I've been told that shipping costs from China have gone from $17,000 a container to $38,000 to $42,000 a container. That has definitely been part of the price increase."
Inventory is up, Bax said, and they don't face shortages on many of the popular items like they have in past years. However, he has been told the fireworks makers in China are looking to move away from making many of the small novelty items such as sparklers.
"They're looking at producing more big shells or big fountains," Bax said. "That's because they are cheaper, labor wise, to make."
HOB Fireworks owner DeAnne Bogg is optimistic about how sales will go, saying despite inflation she thinks, "a lot of people are still wanting to celebrate the country's birthday."
"Last year we had a lot more interest in bigger fireworks," Bogg said. "They would get a miniature version of what you might see at a professional show. I think a lot of people will be gong that route this year."
Bogg said she believes most people will still be able to find room in their budgets for fireworks.
"I think it will be a good year because we have more selection unlike last year when there was a shortage," Bogg said. "We expanded our inventory quite a bit."
This time of year also brings the annual reminders from law enforcement and fire officials that there are limits to how fireworks can be enjoyed.
According to the Jefferson City Fire Department, the discharge of fireworks and/or the release of sky lanterns are prohibited inside Jefferson City limits.
"This year, dry weather conditions are of particular concern for fire officials," fire officials said in a news release. "When they land, fireworks and sky lanterns can cause fires that result in damage to homes and property and could put lives at risk. Anyone found guilty of engaging in these activities within the city limits could face a fine through the municipal court system and may be held financially responsible for any damages to private property."
According to local law enforcement reports, there have been more reports of fireworks being shot off in and around Jefferson City in the past few days, and authorities expect those numbers will increase as the Fourth approaches.
In unincorporated areas of Cole County, officials with the sheriff's department said sometimes there isn't much they can do regarding the discharge of fireworks.
Cole County ordinance states fireworks are allowed to be shot off throughout the day in unincorporated areas, but they must cease at 11 p.m. and can resume at 9 a.m. However, on the Fourth of July holiday, there is an exception.
Two times a year, on the Fourth of July holiday and then on New Year's Eve, there is no 11 p.m. enforcement. The time is pushed until 1 a.m. and can resume at 9 a.m.