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Knightly: Pahrump’s gain is Clark County’s pain

The Fourth of July holiday is upon us once again.

Barbecues, parades and the consternation of Clark County toward Pahrump for all the fireworks legally sold here and (allegedly) transported illegally there.

If it flies in the air, zooms sideways, or explodes, it is probably illegal next door.

On Monday, Clark County held a press conference trying to raise public awareness of that fact, and that their annual “safe and sane” fireworks booths opened Tuesday. The Clark County Fire Department even sent letters to fireworks retailers in Pahrump and Amargosa Valley asking that they be passed out to customers to alert them that the fireworks they are buying may be illegal if they’re bringing them back to the Las Vegas Valley.

Call me cynical, but if someone is driving more than an hour to buy fireworks, they probably know what they are doing. It is also not the responsibility of the retailers in Pahrump to be the police force for Clark County.

To drive home the point of fireworks allowed in Clark County, officials there developed a short public service announcement cartoon that I posted on the Pahrump Valley Times’ Facebook page Monday.

The video starts off with the skyline of Las Vegas exploding with fireworks while patriotic music plays in the background. Then it pulls back and shows a cartoon flame buying fireworks at the “Ill Eagle Fireworks” stand labeled “Not Safe and Sane,” all while the vendor counts his money. A sign points east to Las Vegas, and did I mention the music changed from patriotic to banjo? Where I’m from, the banjo has a certain class connotation that I shouldn’t have to explain here. I just hope that’s not what Clark County was saying about Pahrump (please see Disney).

Growing up in Tennessee in the 1970s, illegal fireworks flooded into our neighborhood with such ease it was just a way of life on the Fourth of July.

The neighbors behind our house would have a large barbecue party on their basketball court, and the evening would culminate with fireworks being shot high into the sky … BOOM! Maybe they had some type of permit, I don’t know.

Oh, it was great fun. But the best part was that us kids, (I was still in elementary school), would somehow, without fail, come to possess packs of firecrackers, chasers and Roman candles. I’m sure they were acquired by some friends’ teenage siblings. I never knew where this underground market for fireworks existed, my friends and I were just the end users.

When I moved to Las Vegas after high school and started having kids, I noticed the proliferation of not-legal-in-this-area fireworks again, but this time I learned where they came from: either the Native Americans to the east or Pahrump to the west.

I’ve never been a big fan of buying fireworks myself. I never felt the urge to spend a couple hundred dollars (at least) to blow stuff up. I felt it was setting my money on fire in a spectacular fashion.

Nye County and the Town of Pahrump have done a good thing by setting up the old fairgrounds land as a place where people can take their aerial fireworks and have a good time. But the neighbors to the east are still not happy that fireworks that are illegal over there are so easily obtainable in Pahrump, and from Amargosa Valley too.

I don’t want to downplay the danger some of these fireworks can possess. People get injured and property is damaged every Fourth of July from the irresponsible use of fireworks. That being said, it is not the responsibility of legal retailers or Pahrump officials to police on behalf of our neighbors.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times

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