July 2, 2007

Lighting up the sky

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Delano appears cheery and anxious as Independence Day rapidly approaches.

Some favor the rides and fun of the carnival. Others enjoy the parade. But without a doubt, Delano’s exhibit of fireworks is a treasure that will spark all eyes’ attention.

Driving down Highway 12, it’s not hard to see a large sign reading FIREWORKS by Doc Holiday’s.

Unfamiliar with the town, Augsburg College seniors Derek Francis and James Heidelberg are selling fireworks to support their college football team.

Having a major in mass communications, Francis hopes to be a news anchor or a sports announcer. Above all, he wants to cover the news. Heidelberg has a business manager major with a marketing emphasis. He hopes to pursue a career in marketing.

Arriving in Delano June 22, both have caught the small town bug.

“We definitely got the small town feeling,” Francis said. “It seems like more of a community, where everybody knows everybody. It’s a good feeling.”

Feeling welcome was certainly apparent for both as the local neighbors greeted them the first day arriving.

Also off of Highway 12, a similar stand of available fireworks rests in Maple Plain. Arriving the same day as Francis and Heidelberg, Shanda Hannan runs one of these eight stands.

This being her first year selling fireworks, Hannan shared why people find so much enjoyment in them.

“It’s fun for the kids,” she said. “The noise and the bright lights are why people like them.”

When checking out some of the available fireworks at both the stands, it’s fun to check out the different varieties in each box.

The recommended types include: Tricky Goblin, Party Keg, and Assorted Snakes. Prices can range from 49 cents up to $100.

When discussing the fun of fireworks for children, Hannan said, “I usually bring my daughter to watch fireworks. It’s relaxing. I like the aspect of the small-town feel, where you know people. It’s fun-filled with colors and bright lights. It’s the togetherness of being with family friends.”

“It’s like the highlight of the summer for the town,” said Heidelberg.

Francis continued by saying, “From what I’ve observed, Delano doesn’t have too many recreational activities that are available. Fireworks are pretty aesthetically appealing. People are just looking for something to break up the monotony of everyday life.”

The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 12th century China, where they were first used to frighten away evil spirits.

Eventually, the art and science of firework making developed into an independent profession of its own. The largest manufacturer of fireworks in the world is China, which exports more than 120,000 tons of fireworks to the US each year.

The types of fireworks found in the US vary, from fireworks which are legal or illegal under federal law. The types of fireworks sold at stands like the two off Highway 12 include ground spinners, flitter sparklers, snakes, wheels, illuminating torches, cone foundation, cylindrical foundation, and flash/strobes.

Those that are illegal include any fireworks that are explosive or aerial such as: firecrackers, ladyfingers, sky rockets, bottle rockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, Roman candles, mines/shells, chasers, parachutes, and aerial shells.

To purchase fireworks from the stands, a person must be 18 years of age or older. When operating the fireworks, adult supervision is necessary.

They may light up the sky, but fireworks also produce smoke and dust that contain heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds, and some low- concentration toxic chemicals that pollute the air.

This concern has stirred the attention of many for years. Some states still ban the sale of fireworks, but, in 2001, Minnesota permitted non-illegal fireworks to be purchased.

Regardless, the Fourth of July in Delano is a time for joy and celebration. Fireworks are a tradition that will continue to spark the attention and excitement of holidays for many years to come.

Hannan’s stand opens at 11 a.m. and closes roughly around 8 p.m. Francis and Heidelberg’s stand runs from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Both stands will be open through the Fourth of July.

Delano’s Fourth of July fireworks display is set to take place Wednesday, July 4 at 10:30 p.m.

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