September 24, 2020

Big Boom Time for Home Fireworks

What’s selling and what it’ll set you back.
By Ross Boissoneau | June 27, 2020

With social distancing sidelining most of the region’s large fireworks shows, many enthusiasts are turning to their local stores to light up the night. We asked some of them to give us insight into what’s new, what are the biggest (sellers) and brightest (best in show), and if they’re seeing a significant uptick in sales.

In short: Lots, big bangs and big color, and yes. At Pro Fireworks in Petoskey, one of a dozen Pro Fireworks locations in the state, Jason Gleason said business this summer is, well … booming. “It’s been quite busy,” he said.  And despite most movie theaters remaining dark, he said the shop’s biggest seller descends from the silver screen: a case of exploding artillery shells called Godzilla vs. King Kong.

Nevertheless, Gleason recommends a new entry in the field, Endgame. He said it’s Pro Fireworks’ biggest display. It throws sparks high into the air and lasts more than 30 seconds.

At Gaylord’s Fireworks Depot (which has multiple locations across northwestern lower Michigan) Jack Woods said that even though mid-June is a little early to say sales are better than previous summers — the bulk of Fourth of July sales happen right before the holiday — he was already seeing a noticeable uptick in business. He said his customers are looking for home fireworks that are loud and lovely.

For fireworks that provide a big bang as well as shoot colors into the sky, he said Excalibur mortars are the most popular, and he recommended buying those and cakes. Mortars are an artillery shell firework that is placed into a tube and fired as a single shot. Cakes are essentially a series of mortars preloaded into tubes, which are then lit by a single fuse. There are different effects with each, said Woods.

TNT Fireworks, which also has a number of locations across the region, as well as across the country (it celebrates its 100th birthday this year) had not yet opened. At the time of this writing. But among the company’s new and noted displays available soon is Living The Dream, a multi-color fountain described as “a maximum charge fountain, powerful and colorful.” It lasts nearly two minutes, and it has a GloFuze, enabling you to find the fuse even in the dark.

Among the most popular is Jungle Flower, with green glitter, crackling flowers in gold and silver, and a spectrum of colorful sparks. The TNT 5-inch Neon Cannister is one of the loudest and highest-flying fireworks. They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, and now they can be in your yard as well. 

For best in show, try Make It Boom! The nine-shot rack is described as a festive five-color finale, with explosive bursts of reds, greens, purple and tons of glitter.

Unlike the others, the Elk Rapids Fireworks Tent is a lone fireworks outpost in — you guessed it — Elk Rapids. Owner Nick Tompkins said this is the 12th year he’s run the stand in his wife’s hometown (they now live in Grayling). 

In the “What’s new” department, Tompkins immediately talks up Baby Shark. “It’s a fountain,” he explains, emitting showers of sparks from the body of the baby shark. “We have a lot of smaller fountains with many colors.” He agreed that mortar rounds remain popular as well. He said the best item may be a five-inch super shell, or 500-gram repeater cakes.

Though he wasn’t yet open, he said he anticipated a stronger than usual season. “I’ve getting calls and texts. I assume more people will want to put on their own show.”

In fact, he’s betting on it. “I bought more than I did last year,” Tompkins said.

Before you jump up and run to your local fireworks store, remember two things: First, and most importantly, be careful. No one wants to get injured while having fun.

And take your wallet. Many of the most impressive fireworks will set you back. For example, at Fireworks Depot, the Excalibur mortar pack runs $180. That popular Godzilla vs. King Kong … ? That’s $399 for the case. If you don’t mind risking a particular firework you want, it might be worth it to wait to buy until closer to the Forth of July. Many will run sale deals as the big day gets closer, either on individual pieces or as a buy one, get one special. 



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