Fireworks vendors say Fourth of July warnings boost sales

Nothing says summer like a fireworks stand filled with brightly packaged explosives and decked with bales of straw.

The stands that sprouted up all over town recently will be packed today and Thursday with people stocking up on fireworks that range from 50-cent poppers to $90 sets.

Although stores are filled with huge columns and cones with names like “Killer Bees” and “The Houdini,” vendors said their best sellers are handheld sparklers.

Some fireworks dealers said they are hoping sales will be up this year, thanks to security concerns that could keep people celebrating at home.

Several customers said they were staying away from the nation’s capitol in lieu of a family cookout and backyard fireworks show.

“The further I can get from Washington, D.C., the better, with all that Osama bin Laden stuff and warnings,” said Mike Smith, who was headed home to Arizona with his family. They stopped to stock up on fireworks at the Plantland Nursery in Manassas before hitting the road.

Others said it wasn’t the threat of terrorism, but the crowds and heightened security measures that make a trip into the District seem unbearable.

“A lot of my friends who usually go into Washington, D.C., have said they’re going to stay home — not because they’re scared but because it’s going to be a zoo,” said Steve Madison, who was selling fireworks outside Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge.

Madison teaches at Woodbridge Middle School and coaches at Gar-Field. Proceeds from the fireworks sales will be used to fund trips and uniforms for the girls’ basketball and softball teams.

Velda Lee and her 12-year-old daughter, Krystal, who were volunteering at the Gar-Field fireworks stand, said they are staying home on Independence Day for the first time in six years. They plan to go to the Dale City parade.

Fireworks dealers said their busiest days would be today and Thursday. Then they get ready for the bargain hunters, who come after July Fourth for half-price sales.

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