Club finds fireworks an explosive business

The fireworks booths are back in business.

With the Fourth of July less than a week away, two fireworks vendors are set to start selling sparkly, spinning devices to light up Independence Day. Literally an island of fireworks sales since King County outlawed the sale and use of fireworks six years, ago, South Whidbey has seen its market for pyrotechnics grow.

That's good, said South Whidbey Kiwanis Club member Greg Smith. The community service club does some of its best fund-raising each year when it opens a fireworks booth in the Ken's Korner parking lot. They compete against another booth that sells next to Sebo's Do-It Center at Bayview.

Last year, the club netted $8,500 selling sparklers, Roman candles, fountains and aerial displays.

During this year's legal selling period, which runs from noon Saturday through July 4, the club hopes to make even more. A non-profit group, the Kiwanians get to sell their fiery wares sales tax-free. All proceeds from the sales go to various local groups.

"It all goes to the community," Smith said.

Past recipients of the Kiwanis fireworks profits have included Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation and for South Whidbey High School graduates who were awarded scholarships.

Fireworks at the Kiwanis booth this year will be priced between 49 cents for small items like sparklers, and $199 for giant packs of pyrotechnics that include just about everything legally available.

Both South Whidbey fireworks booths are selling what the Washington State Patrol defines as "Safe and Sane" fireworks. The devices they sell throw out showers of sparks when ignited, but do not explode. Explosive-type fireworks, such as Black Cats and M-80s, are illegal in Island County, even though they can be purchased legally on some Indian reservations.

Enforcing the fireworks rules in the county will be the sheriff's office and city police departments. Russ Lindner, chief of investigations for the sheriff's office, said deputies responding to fireworks complaints this holiday season will generally warn people who violate the county's noise ordinance and the state's fireworks ordinance. Citations for illegal fireworks discharges will probably be few and far between.

"I don't believe it happens very often," he said of the citations.

Law enforcement will also be keeping an eye out for large fireworks displays. Currently, the sheriff's office has only two permits on file for displays -- one for the Sandy Hook community, the other for Freeland's Celebrate America event July 3.

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