Laws dictate to where, how to use fireworks on New Years

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It’s a tradition older than turkey at Thanksgiving and the Christmas tree.

Celebrating the arrival of the new year goes as far back as the 10th Century, when the Chinese first celebrated the new year with fireworks. It’s a custom that continues with a flourish in the U.S., whether it’s large commercial displays seen by millions, or the simple pop and bang of firecrackers shot in a neighborhood.

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Selling and shooting fireworks is legal in Vicksburg and Warren County, and there is no lack of sites to purchase whatever may be needed to ring in the new year, and the items can go from the traditional firecracker to shots launched into the air.

“Reloads are popular,” said Rickey Mitchell, of Mitchell Fireworks in Vicksburg, which has been selling fireworks since 1939. “These are balls that are loaded in a cylinder and fired. There are also what we call ‘cake items.’ It’s a square box, and they have anywhere from 16 shots to 49 shots; you light the fuse one time, and it’s an aerial display of its own.”

Other popular items are sparklers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and rack items, a board with nine tubes built on it.

“You light it one time, and shoots each tube in sequence,” Mitchell said. “They go pretty high and break real big.” There are also fountains, and packs with assorted fireworks.

But while fireworks can be an enjoyable way to bring in 2017, they can also be the cause of injury if not used right.

“People need to use common sense when they shoot fireworks,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “Parents need to supervise children when shooting fireworks, and they shouldn’t handle them when they’re lit and they need to use a lot of care.

“People also need to keep other people in mind when they shoot fireworks. If you’re still shooting them at 3 or 4 in the morning and people complain, that’s disturbing the peace. It’s against the law and you can get arrested.”

“With firecrackers, you put them on the ground light the fuse and get away; it says that on every packet we sell,” Mitchell said. “Don’t hold Roman candles in your hand because that’s not how they’re intended to be used. When I sell bottle rockets, I always tell people ‘no bottle rocket wars.’”

Fire Chief Charles Atkins said people need to shoot fireworks in an open area away from buildings and homes to prevent the possible threat of fire.

“We’re lucky, we’re having a bit of rain right now,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had some rain in the last few weeks, so at least the burn ban has been lifted. But if there’s high wind, I wouldn’t shoot fireworks until the winds die down a little bit, because you get some drift, and no matter how far out you may be, something may end up over a house or a car, and you don’t want to do damage someone’s property; you don’t want to start a fire.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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