ROBERTS, Wis. (WCCO) – Watching big fireworks displays on the Fourth of July is a big tradition for most families, but lots of people also want to light the fuses on their own pyrotechnic displays.
Since Minnesota laws still limit the kinds of fireworks sold here, many Minnesotans drive to Wisconsin and spend big bucks to get a bigger bang.
On Monday, Sandra Gustafson filled her shopping cart with $330 worth of fireworks at the Phantom store in Roberts, Wisconsin. She will use them to celebrate the Fourth of July in Minnesota.
“All of us like getting out there by the lake and just lighting them up, and watching them, and everybody around the lake kind of participates,” said Gustafson. “It’s just a fun time.”
In fact, the parking lot here seems to have more cars from Minnesota than Wisconsin. This is big business in more ways than one. Clerks say some people spend thousands of dollars here, and the actual fireworks are bigger as well: how about a pack of 16,000 super-loud firecrackers? Or a nine-shot display for $190?
“Everybody has to have ‘em, its right up there with oxygen, everybody is not satisfied unless they have their quota, whatever that may be, of fireworks,” said Phantom manager Randy Schaar.
This store is open year-round, even selling fireworks for the Hindu festival of lights in November. It makes some Minnesota customers wonder why they can’t shop at home.
“You’re going to get the stuff any way. It’s up to the parents to make sure that everybody stays safe, so I don’t see why it can’t be universal across all the states,” said shopper Craig Thacker.
Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill in April that would have allowed a full range of fireworks in Minnesota. Only ground-based displays are legal here, such as sparklers and roman candles. But first responders say even those can be dangerous in the wrong hands.