Wednesday, July 02, 2014

TOP STORY >> Countdown to July 4th

Compiled by Leader staff

Fireworks stands in Pulaski County are only allowed to open about a week before July 4th, and this year the seasonal stands have been hampered by wet weather.

At a fireworks tent on Hwy. 89 West in Cabot, salesman Parrish Gustus was waiting for business to pick up.

“We had too much rain. This parking lot was muddy. As long as we don’t get any more rain, we’ll be alright,” Gustus said.

More than two inches of rain has hit the area in the past week alone, with more to come.

At the nearby Black Market fireworks tent, Jerry Olmstead said he was puzzled at the sales this year. He thinks people are worried about the weather.

Gustus agreed, but said, “If the weather holds out, then business will pick up.”

But more rain is in the forecast through today, before turning sunny and warm with temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s through the weekend.

So what is selling between the rain and thunderstorms?

Gustus said the Texas Outlaw and Hogwild brand fireworks were the biggest sellers at his tent.

Olmstead said the artillery shells were the big sellers at his stand because they go up the highest and have the biggest display.

“The kids like firecrackers, bottle rockets and Sliders,” Olmstead added.

Lauren Goode, saleswoman for Crazy Mike’s fireworks on Hwy. 5 said many people purchase The Exterminator canister shells.

“Neon sparklers are good sellers because they are awesome,” Goode said.

Victory swords are another popular selection. They are fountains in a sword-shaped package. She said they keep their shape so kids can engage in swordplay after the fireworks are set off and the packages have cooled.

Shannon Hightower with Cowboy Bubba’s fireworks on South Rockwood Road said, from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, they are giving away free hot dogs and sodas.

The tent is also having a free drawing on July 4 for The Godfather fireworks pack, an $800 value.

He said their best sellers are Maxed-Out, Diablo, Hang ‘Em High, Black Knight and Third Generation shells.

Hightower said the best fountain displays are the Wildflower. It is 10 to 15-feet tall and lasts a couple of minutes.

Ann Watts at a fireworks stand at Loop and Graham, near the Jacksonville city limits, said, “We’ve been doing pretty good. They’ve (customers) been steady.” The stand had already sold a couple hundred dollars in product by 2 p.m. Monday.

“A lady came in the first day and spent about $80 on sparklers for her wedding,” Watts said. Two of the most popular items purchased this year are the artificial satellite – which spins into the air, emitting sparks — and dancing butterflies, which emit colored sparks.

All area cities have regulations on firework use from complete bans to restricted times and locations.

Sherwood and Cabot have complete bans on fireworks.

Jacksonville also bans fireworks unless individuals ask for and receive a permit from the city. More than 50 permits have been issued.

Ward bans fireworks use except at the ballpark after the city show on the Fourth.

Austin allows fireworks use July 3 until 10 p.m. and July 4 until 11 p.m.

Beebe allows fireworks from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., July 3 and from 7 a.m. July 4 to 12:30 a.m., July 5.

In Lonoke, fireworks may be used July 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and July 4 from 10 a.m. to midnight.

Fourth of July events in the area include:

Sherwood’s 15th annual Fourth of July celebration will run from 6 until 9 p.m. at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave.

The event promises “an evening of family, food and fun” with free hot dogs, live entertainment and fireworks. There will also be free shuttle service from Sylvan Hills High School.

Jacksonville will celebrate the Fourth of July with a fireworks show and other activities at their first ever “Big Bang on the Range” at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Sports Shooting Complex.

The fireworks show will start at about 9:30 p.m. The parks department will be giving tours of the sports facility starting at 6:30 p.m., but there will be no public shooting.

Admission and parking will be free, and individuals can bring in lawn chairs and blankets for lawn seating. Concessions will be sold. Call 501-982-4171 for more information.

Beebe will host its annual Fourth of July celebration starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Beebe city ballpark. The event is free.

SoulSations, a Motown-style 10-piece brass band from Memphis, will take the stage at 6 p.m.

Eleven vendors will sell food, drinks and ice cream. Two water slides will be set up. A fireworks show by the Beebe Fire Department will start after dark.

To help with traffic, free shuttle services to the ballpark will be available from ASU-Beebe behind the Owen Center.

Cabot’s Fourth of July celebration will be held from 6 until 10 p.m. at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. Fireworks start at 9 p.m.

Ward will start its Fourth of July event at 4:30 p.m. at the ballpark on Peyton Street, behind the fire station.

There will be entertainment, food, a car and bike show, a tractor pull and fireworks starting at 9:15 p.m.

Vendor booths are available by calling 501-843-7686.

Floyd’s Fourth of July celebration will be held at the community park from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Festivities will kick off the parade at 10 a.m. and will conclude with a fireworks show at dark.

There will be games, drawings, contests and a concession stand all day. The line up for the parade starts at 9 a.m., and horses will need a Coggins test.