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Tnt Fireworks

Tnt Fireworks

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Workers were still setting up displays in one of James Dabney's 10 tents last week when customers wanting to add a little sparkle to their Fourth of July started showing up.So what if the holiday wasn't for another 10 days? Even without the boom forbidden by Florida law, fireworks remain an annual treat for consumers of all ages.Aaron Grace of Shalimar was looking for something his children might enjoy.

His two boys and two girls range from 8 years old to 1 year old."I'm looking for something that sticks in the ground, like rockets or sparklers," Grace said.And what did he have to spend?"About $20.

Well, $100 maybe," he said, knowing that his wife couldn't hear him because she was still inside the family vehicle.For Dabney, fireworks sales have been a ritual for 17 years, the past 15 as his own boss.

His Paradise Point Fireworks tents can be found from Gulf Breeze to Destin and from Milton to Niceville.

He buys his products from TNT Fireworks, based in Florence, Ala.

He also owns the tents."The economy has been so tough, it's nothing like what you could make five years ago," Dabney said.

"Counting Christmas, we used to be able to sell one or two semi truckloads a year.

Now it's like a half a semi load twice a year."Overhead includes insurance.

Dabney said he carries $1 million worth of liability and $1 million on the products themselves."About 60 percent are repeat customers," he said.

"People know the name."But his are not the only outdoor locations.Reese Antley, who runs stand and tent sales for TNT Fireworks from Alabama to Mississippi, says 80 to 90 percent of the company's customers are nonprofit groups."They pay no money up front, and all they need is a cash register and a fire extinguisher," Antley said.

"And they only pay for what they sell."As a fundraising partner to more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations nationwide, TNT Fireworks helps local groups organize events that generate more than $20 million annually to support community causes, according to a company news release.Among TNT's local customers this year are the Baker High School cheerleaders, the Navarre High School Lady Raiders soccer team and the Apostolic Lighthouse Church.During June, TNT ensures its partners are prepared before the first product is sold each holiday season.

A critical part of this process is TNT University, a learning session that educates each school, civic or church group on how to run a successful consumer fireworks fundraiser.

It includes safety measures, business instruction and product knowledge.

The local session was held at the Emerald Coast Conference Center.When it comes to what's legal in Florida, the rules are simple: Sparklers, fountains and smoking fireworks are legal.

If it flies or explodes, you can't have it.But that doesn't stop people from driving to Alabama to snag firecrackers or "mortar kits," bottle rockets or Roman candles."Usually, we're so busy this time of year we'll just confiscate illegal fireworks," said Michele Nicholson, spokeswoman for the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

"But if things get complicated, it can lead to other action."Using illegal fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.�Fireworks Safety TipsHere are some fireworks safety tips from the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department:l Read and follow label directions.l Have an adult present.

l Buy from state-certified fireworks distributors.l Ignite outdoors with water handy.l Don't make your own fireworks or take fireworks apart to see how they work.l Never relight fireworks that don't work.l Don't give fireworks to small children.l Store in a cool, dry place.l Soak used fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding.l Never throw or shoot fireworks at another person.l Never carry fireworks in your pocket.l Never shoot fireworks inside glass or metal containers.�Daily News Staff Writer Robbyn Brooks contributed to this report.���
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