“You can buy a lot of fireworks at local gas stations, convenience stores, basically everything that we’re selling here,” said Erin Veilleux.
For the second year in a row, Veilleux and her fellow “cheer moms” have manned a fireworks tent set up along the Berlin Turnpike to raise money for their daughter’s competitions.
“Last year we had a whole list of all different places that we could choose from,” she recalled.
This year, she says their options were downsized.
“The less sales are attributing to the less stands everywhere,” she explained.
Detective Paul Makuc is one of nine members of the state patrol tasked with inspecting fireworks tents that pop up around the 4th of July. As NBC Connecticut followed him down the Berlin Turnpike we noticed many stands we’ve seen in previous years were gone. Makuc has observed more empty spots than in the past, too.
“Middletown and Meriden. I checked with them yesterday and they didn’t have any tents set up there,” said Makuc.
“I have noticed that as you’d approach 4th of July you’d see tents everywhere going down the Berlin Turnpike. I’m not seeing them,” said Howard Lehman of Meriden.
A seller in Wallingford told us they were unable to get a permit to sell in Meriden this year. We reached out to the assistant fire marshal there but did not hear back.
Veilleux contends that interest in fireworks hasn’t fizzled. More locations, big box and convenience stores, now carry fireworks as well.
“When you go and get gas and you run into a gas station it’s probably more convenient to just grab it when you’re there,” she stated.
Veilleux thinks sales are also exploding over the state border.
“Most of the ones that we have here only go to a certain height, certain range. So, I think when people see they can drive a little further to go to New Hampshire to get the real stuff, that’s what they’re doing,” she pointed out.
Just because they are legal in other states doesn’t mean you can set them off in Connecticut. Only sparklers and fountains are allowed to be sold and set-off in Connecticut.
“If the label on the package says that the item emits a shower of sparks it is considered to be legal in Connecticut,” Makuc explained. “Any other label that talks about a flaming ball or emits a report, those are found on bottle rockets, roman candles, things like that. Those are what’s considered to be illegal.”