Stands, stores ready for biggest weekend of the year

HARLINGEN — Our noisiest holiday is nearly here, and if Julian Amaya has anything to say about it, it’s going to stay that way.

Amaya operates one of the 16 or so Valley Discount Fireworks stands, this one on U.S. Business 83 near Stuart Place Road.

Like any business, every year fireworks sellers are knocking themselves out to provide the latest flashy-bang for their customers’ buck.

“We have a lot of cakes, those are new this year,” Amaya says, pointing to what look like cellophane-wrapped beach buckets with a big fuse poking through the top. “These ones right here, these big ones, these round ones.

“All of them shoot out different colors, some of them get waves, and some of them are fountains,” he said, adding the cakes go for $15 to $30 apiece.

“You just light them and just let them go,” he added. “The bigger ones go for a longer time, like two minutes.”

Also on the menu at the shack are some big fireworks, like the Lock and Load ($54.95) and the Mother of All Bombs ($150).

“Usually we get two but this year only one,” Amaya said of the Mother, hefting an imposing package of thunderous mayhem. “But we can get more. They deliver every day.”

Of course, all of these fireworks are banned inside the city limits of Harlingen, San Benito, Primera, Palm Valley, La Feria, Santa Rosa and Raymondville.

“It is illegal to pop any fireworks in the City of Harlingen city limits,” said Richard Alvarez, public education officer for the Harlingen Fire Department. “And if you’re going to be popping them off in the county outside the city limits, you have to get permission from Cameron County to see if there are any burn bans or anything.”

Wherever you may be, Alvarez cautions that adults need to be in charge of lighting any fireworks, and no alcohol needs to be involved.

“On an average, yes, we do get anywhere between two and three calls a year, and maybe even sometimes up to five or six emergency calls on fires” over the Fourth of July weekend, Alvarez said.

“Especially when you have those bottle rockets, those aerial displays that everybody likes,” he added. “Well, everything that goes up has to come down, and they land on somebody’s roof or in a palm tree, and that’s when they call us.”

If caught in the explosive act, shooting off fireworks inside the city limits is a Class C misdemeanor with a top fine of $500.

Meanwhile, the bottle rockets, the snakes, firecrackers and the snapdragons, are all going over the counter at a pretty good clip at the Valley Discount Fireworks stand.

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