With the Fourth of July less than two weeks away, sales of fireworks are booming -- across state borders.
In Iowa, fireworks other than simple sparklers and other small novelty items are illegal to set off. Wisconsin, therefore, benefits from Iowa's restrictions.
When it comes to getting some bang for your buck, Iowans are out of luck. Cross the Mighty Mississippi into Wisconsin, however, and Iowans will find no shortage of big signs pointing people to pyrotechnics.
Tyler Vormezeele and his friend Colten Jackoniski have a summer job working at Cornellier Fireworks, a temporary stand set up in Grant County, Wis., off the first exit across the Iowa-Wisconsin border on US Highway 151/61.
"I think there was five stores that we could name off within a three mile radius of us," Vormezeele said Sunday afternoon.
He and Jackoniski are putting in 14-hour shifts these days, ensuring people from states with more restrictive laws regarding fireworks can get their fix-- across state lines.
"We get people from everywhere. We've had people from Colorado come here already," Vormezeele said. "They come here and they spend, like, 1,400 dollars' worth of stuff just to bring it back so they have enough stuff to last them so they don't have to make a trip back all the way to Wisconsin."
Other people, such as Terry Frost from Epworth, come right over from eastern Iowa, though he said he'd rather be able to shop for fireworks and set them off in his home state.
"You can't have any fireworks at home. You know? They always harass you if you light off a couple firecrackers. It only comes once a year, you know," he said Sunday afternoon, shopping at the Grant County stand. "Plus, the state could make revenue off of it and they don't. That's a huge business. Look what they charge for them."
Vormezeele said the stand at which he and Jackoniski work sees between 50 and 100 customers a day. It's a number, he said, that's only growing as the Fourth of July nears.
However, there are reasons Iowa and other states have put the kabosh on big booms at home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said more than 21,000 people were treated last year for injuries related to fireworks.
Some of that, Frost said, can be avoided with common sense.
"It's not like I'm going to give my five-year-old some bottle rockets and say, 'Here ya go, Gavin, go have a good time!'" Frost said.
Illegally setting off fireworks in the state of Iowa is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of no less than $250. Whether the risk is safety or getting caught, there could be a cost for disobeying the law.
Even the legal products in Iowa pose a safety threat. Experts say sparklers, which are legal, can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees. They recommend always having water handy in case of a fire and never trying to relight a firework.
The Cornellier Fireworks stand in Grant County closes after July 5.
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