Public firework displays across the region are canceled because of COVID-19. However, tents are popping up all over the county where people can purchase their own.
Colleen Slover, owner of Wholesale Fireworks in the Walmart parking lot, said she debated whether or not she should set up this year but ultimately decided to take the gamble and not to end 30 years of selling fireworks in Junction City.
“You’ve got Country Stampede canceled,” she said. “You’ve got Sundown Salute canceled. Wamego’s fireworks show was canceled. My customers are counting on me. We’re hoping it’s going to be for the better this year because we really contemplated not coming up.”
Although she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Fort Riley and Junction City communities were home to her many years ago when her family was stationed at Fort Riley. Then her son was stationed here — coming back was important to her.
She put safety guidelines in place, which includes using hand sanitizer after every transaction with a customer.
Just to the west in the Planet Fitness parking lot, Cole Gering, at the Bellino Fireworks, was also considering how the pandemic would affect business.
“We are thinking sales will be higher this year with everything closed down,” she said.
They both were also cognizant of the hit COVID-19 has taken on the economy and understand that some people may not have the funds to go all out like they have in the past. However, a celebration may be what people need at this time.
“We have to let freedom ring and let everybody have some fun,” Slover said.
Several of her customers will let freedom ring with the Excalibur artillery shell, which has been her hot seller. New for this year is another artillery shell called The Growler.
“That one will rattle some windows,” she said.
Over at the Bellino Fireworks tent the artillery shells are also popular. The Main Event by Terrence Crawford is their new one this year. The 500-gram cake, also known as a repeaters or multi-shot, is the largest consumer firework allowed by federal law. However, they also have a four pack of 500-gram cake called Weapons of Warfare.
“The weapons of warfare — it is a big finisher,” said Summer Bice, 13. “It’s like the artillery shells except it goes on for about three minutes and it is four or 500 gram cape— a 500 gram cake is the most we can legally sell you so, it’s pretty big.”