LEE COUNTY, Fla. — It's no surprise many are excited to ring in 2021, but like many other events this year, many New Year's celebrations were canceled.
That, however, is not stopping people from starting the year off with a bang.
Chris Whited, the owner of American Discount Fireworks in Fort Myers, says demand for fireworks has been high this year, and New Year's week is no exception.
"We've been brisk, we are above normal sales, and it's just going to get busier," said Whited.
Whited says demand was so high back in July that they completely sold out of their inventory.
"For the Fourth of July, because of the pandemic, people couldn't go out and watch the big shows, so they went ahead and got their own stuff," said Whited.
He expects the same as the year comes to a close and many New Year's Eve firework displays are canceled.
But Whited says the higher demand has presented challenges.
"Trying to get restocked, get the product made, get it imported, and then to the distributors has been a problem," said Whited.
Many of the fireworks used for New Year’s Eve celebrations are made in China.
Whited says they have 1/3 of the inventory they would typically have this time of year.
But it's not just the pandemic fueling the boom in sales.
"Fireworks are legal on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, as well as the 4th of July, that's relatively a new law," said Corporal Philip Mullen, Public Affairs Officer, Cape Coral Police Department.
Before the law took effect, all fireworks that blow up or shoot in the air were prohibited.
However, a loophole would allow people to buy fireworks by signing a waiver, saying they would use them for agricultural purposes only.
People caught using fireworks any other day of the year, besides the three allowed holidays, could face penalties and fines.
With backyard firework displays lighting up the sky soon, officials want to emphasize safety.
"Don't point them at anyone; make sure there is a long enough fuse so you can get away once you've lit them, do it on concrete or asphalt, not grass that can light," said Corporal Mullen.
And always have an adult supervise firework activities.
"Fireworks can be dangerous, so you want to make sure you know the product so that you can safely set it off and have a great display," said Whited.
The state law does not supersede local regulations prohibiting fireworks; those can still be enforced.
Other safety tips include:
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Never ignite devices in a container.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire.