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Phantom Fireworks

Phantom Fireworks

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Tad Ward drove about five hours from Shady Spring, W.Va., to the Phantom Fireworks store in Millersport and spent $1,000 on fireworks for the upcoming holiday.

"This is my Christmas," said Ward, 28, who saved his money all year to pay for his cartload of fireworks.

"The wife has Christmas, and I have the Fourth of July."The fireworks industry might be one of the few in the country that doesn't need a bailout.Julie Heckman, executive director for the American Pyrotechnics Association, expects higher sales this year because the fireworks industry historically has been recession-resistant."In terms of revenue, I think we're going to be very strong," Heckman said.

"I think this could be a record-setting year for the fireworks industry."Still, that doesn't mean the fireworks industry is immune to hard times, said William Weimer, vice president of Phantom Fireworks Co.

in Youngstown, which specializes in consumer fireworks at its 53 showrooms in Ohio and throughout the country."We're fun, and we paint the sky," he said.

"But at the same time, we have insurance issues, payroll issues, advertising issues and rent issues, just like every other business."What helps the fireworks industry in tough times is that some people might choose at-home entertainment rather than expensive vacations, Weimer said."More people are going to stay at home, and I think those people will do more stay-at-home entertaining," Weimer said.

"They'll hopefully use some fireworks to help lighten the spirits."Most consumer fireworks, however, are illegal to use in Ohio.

They can be bought, but must be transported out of the state within 48 hours of purchase.

The only fireworks that legally can be used in Ohio are "trick and novelty items" such as sparklers, snakes and smoke balls, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce.Despite concerns that community fireworks shows would be canceled because of budget constraints, the only central Ohio show that's been axed is Newark's.Hamburg Fireworks Display was to have handled the Newark show, but President Ken Sprague said that's been the only setback for the Lancaster-based company.

Some shows have trimmed their budgets, but none too significantly, he said.As for the consumer market, Sprague said this week is primetime for fireworks sales.

He's optimistic that they'll go well."Typically in the last few years, although the economy's been up and down, people always find money for (fireworks)," Sprague said.John Rozzi, president of Rozzi Fireworks near Cincinnati, said his company, which specializes in commercial fireworks shows, booked more events this year than last.

His customers' budgets either stayed the same or increased.

Some customers have even expanded their shows.

The Cincinnati Reds, for example, boosted their fireworks shows to every two weeks, he said."It's cheap entertainment for the masses."[email protected]

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/06/28/fireworks.ART_ART_06-28-09_B1_T2EAI7L.html?sid=101
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