Several cities begin selling fireworks

June 28, 2008 5:10:54 PM PDT
Several Bay Area cities began selling fireworks on Saturday.

Vendors we spoke to say they sell the fireworks because they still generate good revenue and many clubs and organizations depend on those sales to keep them around.

The Farmers and Farmerettes Square Dancing Club wouldn't be dosie-doeing if not for their annual fireworks stand. "Our rent's gone up. It used to be $20 when we first started and now it's $150 a night that we have to pay. When we have our hoedowns, used to be $30 a night and it's gone up to $350," says Farmers and Farmerettes Chairman Don Baker.

The dancers donate 20 percent of their profits to the community and cleared $10,000 last year. The Newark stand has been swinging for 28 years, but in many other Bay Area cities, safe and sane fireworks are banned, including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

"I think the safe and sane idea is good and I think it goes far enough, and to outright banning everything that is dangerous is kind of ridiculous," says fireworks customer Steve Karlsrud.

San Bruno also sells safe and sane fireworks but increased the penalty for using illegal fireworks to $500. Newark also has stiff penalties, but the fire marshal admits it's an uphill battle. Illegal fireworks lit up the sky in San Francisco last year. Often, people will use the safe and sane kind alongside the illegal ones making it harder to catch them.

"We don't sell anything that explodes or leaves the ground. They put it on the ground, they light it and it stays there," says Baker.

The Farmers and Farmerettes include the city's no tolerance policy for illegal fireworks and a list of safety tips for the legal kind in every bag. Parents say it's a matter of being responsible and teaching kids how to be safe.

"I don't have to tell them every time. It's like you put a pot on the oven, you don't burn your hand because you already know how to do it," said one customer we spoke to.

The city of Watsonville also decided to ban the sale of safe and sane fireworks. Cities that are selling fireworks include Dublin, San Bruno, and Union City.


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