HELENA – With the Fourth of July less than two weeks away, fireworks stands around Montana opened for business Sunday.
According to state law, fireworks can only be sold from June 24 through July 5, and from December 29 to 31.
By Sunday morning, three stands were operating around the intersection of Canyon Ferry Road and Wylie Drive in the Helena Valley. Homer Key manages the Beehive Fireworks stand there, along with one in Montana City. He has been involved in the fireworks business for around 20 years.
“I just love fireworks,” he said. “I love dealing with the public, selling fireworks, making sure everybody’s having a fun, safe time.”
Key said many of his customers come back year after year, even following the stand when it had to move to a new location.
“I’ve been here so long that I’ve had customers who came here and now their kids are coming here with their kids,” he said.
Key said he makes safety a top priority at Beehive. He said he makes sure to explain how an item works if the customer isn’t familiar with it, to ensure they take the right precautions.
“I hate to see fires out there,” he said. “Fires only hurt our business.”
A sign at the stand highlights that people aren’t allowed to set off fireworks in the Helena city limits. City leaders say police will issue citations and fines.
In unincorporated areas of Lewis and Clark County, fireworks are allowed – though there are restrictions in county parks. Authorities also ask people to be careful, especially around any vegetation.
Key said sales at Beehive Fireworks started slow Sunday morning, as rain passed through the area. But he expects that wet weather will be a boost for his business in the long run.
“If it’s really dry, it’s hard to sell fireworks,” he said. “If there’s a plume of smoke coming from a fire, it’s really hard to sell fireworks. We’re not going to see that this year, so I believe we’re going to have a really big year.”
Key said he expects to make about half of Beehive’s total sales for the season on the Fourth of July itself.