Megan Hopkins waits for customers at the Fantastic Fireworks standing at Hwy. 42 and Interstate 20, manning the seasonal operation alongside Sharon Dry.

As America celebrates independence and freedom on July 4th, they know the skies (outside the Kilgore City Limits) will light up with fireworks and many have been stocking up on Roman candles, rockets and other pyrotechnics from local stands.

For local fireworks-stand employees, the extra work leading up to Independence Day can mean anything from picking up a little extra cash to funding charitable projects.

“What do fireworks mean to me?” said the seller at East Texas BOGO on Stone Road, Rickey Hammontree, “Money!”

For Mark Dickson of East Texas BOGO on the corner of Old Highway 135 and Highway 31, he’s glad to see proceeds fund the protection of unborn children.

“What we do is educational,” he added.

Teenagers assist Shannon Sisk at Best Buy Fireworks to help raise funds for the Gladewater ISD band – “It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Fireworks tend to sell more frequently the few days before the Fourth. When customers come more frequently, they “spend 15-to-20 minutes picking [fireworks],” Hammontree said. Individual items can cost anywhere from 25 cents to $500. “It’s pretty good money for 10 days.”

Those who celebrate the season by launching rockets must follow some safety tips, as the small explosives can be dangerous.

One tip: don’t shoot them alone.

“Have somebody there with you so you don’t do something stupid,” Hammontree said. Likewise, don’t launch rockets directly from your hands.

Sparklers can burn at almost 2,000 degrees – the heat is enough to melt some metals. Also, always follow the directions on the package.

According to Steve Dowshen on, many children (and adults) have burned their hands and injured their eyes from not following instructions.

“Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you’ll enjoy them much more knowing that your family is safe,” Dowshen said in his article, ‘Fireworks Safety.’

For those who want the entertainment but are wary of the risks, the City of Kilgore is having a celebration and fireworks show beginning at 5 p.m. July 4 at Kilgore City Park. Per the City of Kilgore’s Facebook page, “The Fourth of July Extravaganza will feature food vendors, water slides, kids activities and live music by the Chad Cooke Band, who last year achieved over 1 million views on Youtube.”

Once the season ends, firework stand employees will return to their regular jobs.

“[I] can’t wait to sell some fireworks and move onto the next thing,” said Dickson, pastor of Longviews SovereignLOVE Church.


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