People flock to North Augusta stores for fireworks

Lighting up the Fourth

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Three Augusta parents scanned rows of colorful boxes at Wacky Wayne's off Interstate 20 in North Augusta.

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Johnathan Murphy, 14, of Augusta, shops for fireworks with his grandfather, Billy Murphy. Johnathan wanted fireworks to set off for the Fourth of July.   Sara Caldwell/Staff
Sara Caldwell/Staff
Johnathan Murphy, 14, of Augusta, shops for fireworks with his grandfather, Billy Murphy. Johnathan wanted fireworks to set off for the Fourth of July.

"Lots of noise and lots of explosions" were the main objectives for Sam Rogers, who plans to put on a show at home this weekend with his three children, who are 2, 6, and 9 years old. Rogers and his friends, Eric and Jamie Walts, bought more than $350 worth of fireworks, far more than the cost of attending one of the free showings this holiday.

"I find that we have a lot more fun and we get a front-row seat," said Jamie Walt. "We get to be more hands-on."

When it comes to home shows, James Playford at Wacky Wayne's on U.S. Highway 1 said it seems people are generally looking to replicate the fireworks at shows that entertain big crowds.

Several local retailers said their most popular products are the artillery shells, which produce smaller versions of the traditional explosions-in-the-sky fireworks.

Rogers and the Walts bought the Commander-In-Chief -- an $80 package that features 24 mortar shells that shoot skyward to produce loud and vivid explosions.

Scott Kent, the manager at Fox Creek Fireworks off Martintown Road, said he has a variety of shell options ranging from 10 to 225 shots, with more shots and smaller tubes generally producing less power.

For those looking for more variety and products that are safer for the kids, Dillon Grantham at Fireworks Giant said the perfect items are the assortment packs, which start at about $50. He said the packs provide an economical way to get anything from smoke bombs, sparklers and fountains to more explosive fireworks such as Roman candles and mortar shells.

Retailers said college-age adults and teenagers' interests trend more toward fireworks that make a lot of noise and shoot into the sky, such as Roman candles, bottle rockets or even the smaller Saturn missiles.

Some parents, including Veronica Payne, of Martinez, aren't comfortable buying such explosive items because they can fly into the wrong places.

Her kids will have to settle for a couple of small brown bags of tamer items, such as sparklers and black cats.

"It's better than nothing," said Nick, one of Payne's two sons.

Even those black cats are illegal in Georgia, but retailers said that doesn't stop people from crossing the state line to buy fireworks to shoot off in their yards to celebrate the nation's birthday.

In fact, since South Carolina has some of the most lenient laws in the region, people come from all over to buy what they need to celebrate the holiday the way they want. Grantham said he's sold fireworks to customers from as far away as New York, which is one of four states that bans all consumer fireworks.

Rogers said his family will likely shoot off its fireworks at his Augusta home on Saturday, and he wondered aloud if his new neighbors will be bothered by all the explosions. He'll likely get to find out.

SARA CALDWELL/STAFF



Staying safe

Local fireworks store employees offered some helpful tips about how to safely put on on a Fourth of July show in your yard:

- Be aware of excess embers or sparks, especially in extra dry areas.

- Always be aware of your surroundings when using fireworks that shoot into the air. Don't forget about the wind.

- If you have a choice, always stick bottle rockets, Roman candles, etc., into wetter ground so they're less likely to fall over.

- With powerful artillery shells, use bricks to help keep them pointed toward the sky.

- Be more efficient and safe by using a punk to light fireworks rather than matches or a lighter.

What's legal

SOUTH CAROLINA: Most fireworks are legal. Those banned include explosive devices such as M-80s, M-100s, blockbusters or quartersticks. Any device that produces sound can contain only two grains of pyrotechnic composition.

GEORGIA: Sparklers up to 100 grams of mixture per item, snake and glow worms, paper streamers, party poppers, string poppers, snappers and drop pops containing 0.25 grains or less of explosive mixture. Firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, Roman candles and sparklers over 100 grams are illegal.

Sources: South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, official code of Georgia


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