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story.lead_photo.caption Fireworks tents have popped up all over Fulton. Despite COVID-19, firework sales have been "fantastic," said Phil English, of King-Cal Fireworks. Photo by Olivia Garrett / Fulton Sun.

COVID-19 hasn't put a damper on the demand for fireworks.

If anything, the ongoing pandemic has sparked a hunger for dazzling displays of light and noise.

"There seem to be a lot more private firework shows as more family and friends are gathering for their own event," said Amanda White, who is manning the TNT Fireworks tent in the Walmart parking lot with her parents, aunt and children.

In fact, business is "fantastic," said Phil English, of King-Cal Fireworks.

English, whose stand lies just outside Fulton city limits near Route Z, has been in the fireworks business for 48 years. This year, July 4th falls on a Saturday — a day when sales are typically high, English said.

Over the past few weeks, Fulton residents might have noticed fireworks tents set up in parking lots around town. Licensed retailers are able to sell fireworks June 20 through July 10 and Dec. 20 through Jan. 2.

White has been selling fireworks for four years.

"There's always changes to fireworks — they're always getting bigger, better and brighter," she said.

The Helsel family has fireworks stands located throughout Missouri, including one in the NAPA Auto Parts parking lot on North Bluff Street and another on Fourth Street in the parking lot near the Post Office Bar & Grill.

"I've been doing fireworks my whole life," South Callaway High School student Trace Helsel said.

Now that he's 16, Helsel can run a tent by himself.

"It's good money," he said. "It's good to be able to interact with people, and I like selling stuff. It's fun."

Because vendors can't leave a fireworks tent unattended, cots and air mattresses are a common sight.

Helsel's been camped out at the North Bluff Street tent with a couple of friends.

"It's not as bad as you think," he said.

Both security and safety are concerns.

"There's a lot of liability if for some reason someone happens to slip a cigarette out the car window and it moves its way over to the tent — of course that's not good," White said. "We work long and exhausting hours, but it is worth it to help customers and friends have the best firework show for the budget they are working with."

By ordinance, fireworks can only be discharged within Fulton city limits from 1-11 p.m. between July 3-5. Anything after 11 p.m. is subject to summons to city court. The fine is set by to the judge, up to $500.

It's unlawful to throw fireworks from, at or under a vehicle; at people or buildings; or within 500 feet of a church service.

If the peace is being disturbed, even within legal firework-lighting hours, residents can make a written and signed complaint to police.

Firework tips:

Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks unattended — even sparklers are hot enough to cause severe burns.

Only buy fireworks from a permitted seller.

If you're going to light fireworks, do it away from the home, brush or dry grass.

Light one device at a time, then back away. If it doesn't go off, don't try to relight it.

Always have a water source nearby.

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