ELKHART — Dry conditions hurt Dave Williams’ fireworks sales on the Fourth of July and he’s hoping wet weather on Labor Day weekend is not as disastrous.
Williams delved into fireworks sales for the first time this year and operates sales out of a building next to Carriage Cleaners, a family-owned business on Cassopolis Street in Elkhart.
Williams reopened the store Tuesday following news that Elkhart County and the city of Elkhart would temporarily lift a prohibition on setting off personal fireworks for the upcoming holiday weekend.
He’s hoping a strong weekend will help offset sales that fizzled in June and July after authorities banned fireworks for fear they might spark fires in sun-dried lawns and fields.
“I need a good weekend,” Williams said as he sat behind a table in a room filled with pyrotechnic products.
Now, there’s a new problem on the horizon.
“I hope the hurricane doesn’t drench us because it’s heading this way,” Williams added.
On the bright side, Williams says he’s facing less competition this weekend because, he said, some of the annual tent sale operations did not resurrect efforts for Labor Day.
On Wednesday, Elkhart City Council formally approved the use of consumer fireworks for the holiday weekend. The county commissioners took identical action Aug. 20.
The fireworks policy is the same for both the city of Elkhart and the county Friday through Monday during specified hours. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the hours will be 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset. On Monday, fireworks would be allowed from 10 a.m. to two hours after sunset.
Government leaders in much of northern Indiana prohibited the use of fireworks earlier this summer because of dry conditions brought about by a widespread drought. Whether allowing fireworks this weekend will cause more work for police is anyone’s guess.
Elkhart County Sheriff’s Capt. James Bradberry said area police will have beefed up patrols this weekend looking for impaired drivers, but he said he was unsure what to expect since fireworks will be permitted.
He said he’s certain people who bought fireworks two months ago will be eager to use them this weekend.
Regardless, the upcoming holiday will likely spark some calls to police from those who don’t like the noise and wonder if it is legal.
Dispatchers might have some explaining to do, given the special circumstances.
“Most certainly, every time fireworks are involved, we get complaints wanting to know if it’s OK,” said Brandi Burden, dispatcher at the Elkhart County 911 call center.