Local Independence Day revelers got their first chance to actually watch their rockets’ red glare this past weekend as the much anticipated launch site at the Pahrump Fairgrounds opened to the public.
The site is designed to allow those who purchased the aerial-type fireworks to discharge them to their heart’s content, in a safe environment. The site was developed through a partnership between local fireworks retailers and the Town of Pahrump.
Tim McKoy, owner of Area 51 Fireworks, said the weekend event went on without any major problems as dusk set in on Friday evening.
Beginning on Friday and throughout the weekend, the site on Fox Avenue off Gamebird Road is open from sundown to midnight.
McKoy, along with Regional General Manager Casey Steinhart, were both on hand for Friday and Saturday evening.
“Everything went great for us and the other fireworks distributors who had their representatives out there,” he said. “We brought some products out and tested them so everybody could kind of get the feel of how the launch site was going to work and everything went fantastic.”
Approximately 50 people used the site during the weekend, and a much larger group is expected this weekend.
McKoy also gave credit to Pahrump’s Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Matt Luis who oversaw much of the preparations and logistics during the event.
“Mr. Matt Luis did a fantastic job and he had it down and the system was working,” he said. “The way he has the solar lighting when you’re standing there looking at the site it looks like a landing strip.”
McKoy noted that once the celebrants arrive at the site and check in, a cart will transport them out to one of the launch sites where they can shoot their fireworks safely and without fear of starting a structure or brush fire, which is common this time of year.
“One of our representatives was out there watching to make sure everything is safe and people are doing the right things with their fireworks. Everything went great.”
Laurie Bodendorfer, manager of Phantom Fireworks is equally pleased with the new launch site.
She said her store is seeing a significant increase in sales when compared to last year.
“Sales are awesome right now and we are way up from the past year so you can tell the economy has come up,” she said. “Our busiest time it seems, are all the days leading up to the Fourth of July. It’s been every day of the week so far and we expect it to continue through the Fourth of July.”
Bodendorfer also said customers are purchasing everything from rockets to sparklers.
“People are buying a combination of everything we have,” she said. “It’s anywhere from the family pack assortments to rockets to fountains. We got a lot of new products in this year. It’s something like 35-to-50 brand new items this year.”
Bodendorfer noted that many of her customers are not Pahrump residents.
She said her business gets a lot of buyers from out of town shopping alongside local residents.
“The customers love the new launch site and Phantom Fireworks will have team members out there to make sure everybody is shooting their fireworks safely,” she said. “A lot of people especially from Las Vegas love the launch site. On Friday and Saturday night we had a lot of people from Las Vegas.”
McKoy too, said he noticed a lot of out-of-town customers in the past several weeks. He expects even more during this week.
“As far as what’s our busiest day, every year is different and it depends on how the holiday falls,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of out-of-state buyers and we’ve heard, we will have a lot of different groups who will want to come out here for the Fourth of July so it’s going to be quite busy up there.”
On purchasing trends this year, McKoy said many customers are drawn toward the variety of fireworks that go airborne.
“Everybody buys a little of everything but what’s been selling big in the last couple of years is what we call the aerials and the multi-shot aerials,” he said. “Those are 200 gram and 500 grams.”
Any local purchase of fireworks wanting to use the site requires obtaining a $5 safety site permit.
Bodendorfer said it’s best to plan your fireworks shopping prior to arriving at the businesses.
“The permits are good for the same day,” she said. “You can use it at the other stores too so you don’t have to buy one every single time you go to a different store. It’s best to do all of your purchases at one time,” she said.
Bodendorfer also said she’s heard just a few grumblings from some who complained about the fees.
“There have been just a couple of people who have complained about paying the fee but surprisingly it’s been really, really good and I think that was the best thing that the town and county could have done for our community.”
McKoy noted that most of his customers didn’t bat an eye when told about the permit fee.
“If you look around at what people are loading into their carts, it’s well over $100, so the $5 permit to them is not a real big deal,” he said. “They love the whole thing where you don’t have to sign the forms anymore and take their purchase out of the county within 24 hours.”
After the holiday, Bodendorfer said she still sees customers throughout the year who regularly purchase fireworks.
“There’s always New Year’s Day and Labor Day weekend as well as Memorial Day weekend,” she said. “The Chinese New Year is also popular for shopping. We have a lot of coupon specials on our website at fireworks.com.”
The site is located at Fox Avenue and Dalton Street on the far south end of town approximately 5 1/2 miles from the intersection of Highways 160 and 372.
From Highway 160 make a right onto Homestead Road and turn left at the first stop sign which is Gamebird Road.