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Fireworks business ready for busy season

LANETT — There are two busy times of year for the Boom City USA warehouse, located off Exit 77 on I-85. The busiest time of the year is just before July the Fourth, but the final few days before New Year’s is a close second.

“We have sets of people coming in this time of year,” said long-time store manager Marsha Pickens. “A set is a group of people, usually family or close friends. On July 4 or New Year’s Eve there will be times when we have six or seven sets of people in each aisle. That can be 60 to 75 people overall in here at one time. We have eight registers with fast cashiers. Even with that crowd, we can have most people out in less than ten minutes. Once the customer has gotten what they want, there’s very little waiting time.”

Inside Boom City USA is a huge assortment of firecrackers, missiles, rockets, smoke spinners, sparklers and other items.

Some of the more popular items are the Say What!, the Loyal to No One grand finale, the Excalibur and the Goliath.

When ignited, the Say What! puts out 58 colorful bursts lasting a full minute or more. The 500 gram Loyal to No One grand finale puts out 33 red and gold shots in a minute-long display. The Excalibur sends up a colorful burst 250 feet in the air that extends 200 feet wide. The Goliath can send up single, double and triple shots.

Pickens said that fireworks enthusiasts need to be knowledgeable in what they are doing. Some of the more sophisticated fireworks come with launchers that need to be either nailed or screwed to a solid base.

“You never want it to tip over when you light it,” Pickens said. “It’s a good idea to plan ahead what you do. Having a good launcher is a necessity.”

Pickens said that customers come throughout the east-central Alabama, west-central Georgia region. Despite the fact that fireworks are now legal in Georgia and there are plenty of fireworks dealers in the state, Boom City USA is still getting lots of people from Georgia.

“We especially get a lot of people from Troup County and Newnan,” Pickens said.

The business has flexible hours this time of year.

“We open at 8 a.m. and stay open as long as we are busy. There have been times when people would call us from Atlanta to tell us they were coming to buy fireworks, and we’d stay open for them.”

Pickens credits her co-workers for doing great work.

“There’s no way I could do this by myself,” she said. “Misty Elliott and Connie Kelly in particular are very helpful. Misty’s husband, Ricky, is a good employee too.”

Boom City USA is well known for their gorilla mascot, Wilton. There was once a huge inflatable of him on top of the building. He’s been retired in favor of a large mural on the outside of the building, done by Charles Forbus.

“He painted it free hand and did a great job,” Pickens said.

A strong wind once blew the old Wilton from his roost across Phillips Road and the historic Huguley family cemetery, coming to rest on a utility pole.

“We were able to pull him down and get him repaired,” Pickens said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever put him back up there again. He’s gotten his share of attention. We like the one on the side of the building. He’s huge, and you can clearly see him from the road.”

People turning off the interstate know they are at Boom City USA when they see the huge image of Wilton on the front of the building.

Boom City asks anyone using fireworks to follow the following safety rules:

  • Always read the instructions carefully before lighting any fireworks;
  • Do not throw burned-out sparklers on the ground; the hot debris can burn anyone who steps on it;
  • Always wear proper clothing when lighting fireworks – this includes long pants, eye protection, covered shoes and ear protection;
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs when using fireworks;
  • Do not smoke around fireworks or have them around open flame;
  • Keep your fireworks dry; never attempt to light wet fireworks;
  • Make sure the fireworks you purchase are clearly marked “Class C” or “1.4G” fireworks.
  • It’s also a good idea to make sure your use of fireworks doesn’t upset your neighbors.

“There’s no ordinance in Valley against shooting fireworks,” said Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon. “We sometimes get complaints from people about fireworks, and we always answer those complaints. We always advise people to be careful when using fireworks and to respect your neighbor’s wishes. Have a good time but try not to upset people.”

Whether it’s July 4th or Dec. 31 police officers expect both fireworks complaints and DUI arrests – the main thing is to try to keep the peace and keep people from being injured.