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Why You Can Expect More Fireworks This July 4

Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

Head just outside the city limits of most Texas towns and you’ll start to see them. Brightly-painted trailers and lean-tos selling fireworks – with big signs that say, 'buy one get five free!'

Danny Turner’s stand Half Off Fireworks is the first one you get when you're heading west on 290 out of Austin.

“We’ve been doing this for almost ten years,” Turner said.

For five of those 10 years, the state's been in a drought, during which the heightened risk for wildfire made some hesitant to celebrate with a bang.

“There are some very tight years,” Turner said. “It’s like when we ranch – there are cattle years that are better than other years and you just make it through the thin and hope for the thick.”

Tom Hancock is hoping for a big year. He’s run the fireworks stand just across the way from Danny Turner’s for the past 17 years.

“It started out as a fundraiser for my son and I for the Dripping Springs baseball team,” Hancock said. “We raised money to go off to our tournaments that we had. When I retired from coaching in 2005, my son and I just decided to do it as a part-time job.”

Instead of a baseball trip, fireworks sales now represent supplemental income.

“It helps offset the bills as you get older so, yeah, we look forward to good years,” Hancock said.

This year could be one of those. Cousins Ryan and Olivia Kohler are folding and unfolding 20 dollar bills as they stare wide-eyed at the selection stacked before them.

“Well, she wanted some fireworks for her birthday, and we got poppers at Target, but we want more,” Olivia Kohler said.

Both fireworks stands are experiencing increased business so far because burn bans and fireworks limits aren’t keeping people away.

“It’ll be good because of all the rain we’ve had, and that’s pretty contingent on what kind of season we have – if it’s been real dry, people are real paranoid about buying,” Hancock said.

“People aren’t afraid to go out and shoot things,” Turner said. “It’s been so dry in the past. And it’s very much safer this year than what we’ve had in who knows how long.”

Ryan and Olivia aren’t particularly focused on the drought, or the state's final emergence from it. They’re just excited about fireworks. And if you are too, Hancock and Turner advise you to shop early for the fourth. They’re expecting to sell out sooner than in years past.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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