As night falls, colors burst across the sky — it’s fireworks season in Wilson County.
From firecrackers and sparklers to rockets and novelty fireworks, residents have plenty to choose from at tent vendors across town. Local police departments say most residents are handling them responsibly, but there are still city codes to keep in mind.
“There are distance limits between schools, businesses, churches and that sort of thing,” Lebanon Police Department Sgt. P.J. Hardy said. “You can fire them until 10 p.m., or until 11 p.m. on July 4, and no one under 18 is allowed to launch fireworks without parental supervision.”
Hardy said the department has seen an increase in fireworks-related calls over the years, but it has not developed into a safety issue for the community.
“The biggest issue for us is you’ve got folks that shoot past 10 p.m.,” he said. “We also get people complaining about their animals being scared of them, or their children trying to sleep. We try to give folks a fair warning so they understand the city fireworks code. If we catch them a second time we’ll confiscate their fireworks, and if we have to we can give them a citation, but we try to avoid that.”
LPD has not issued any fireworks warnings this year since sales began on June 20.
Fireworks codes related to sales, firing hours and distance limits are consistent between Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, and MJPD Capt. Tyler Chandler said they have not been an issue for the community.
“Typically we see people using them in a safe manner, but they want to keep firing after 10 p.m.,” Chandler said. “It’s very rare for us to issue a citation, and typically it’s just a warning and they stop. We’re not aware of anyone maliciously using fireworks.”
According to Chandler, the only fireworks safety incident in Mt. Juliet this season involved juveniles throwing them from a vehicle, and they stopped after officers asked them.
“The biggest complaint we get is use after hours … fireworks are kind of a non-issue for us,” he said. “I hope it stays that way.”
Rusty Johnson, a longtime Lebanon fireworks vendor marking his 10th year selling on West Main Street, said customers usually handle the products safely but offered some recommendations.
“Make sure you have water around, and if the firework falls over put the water on it and don’t try to pick it up,” he said. “Always follow the directions on the packaging, most every one of them has got a warning label on it. These may seem obvious, but don’t try to make your own fireworks and only launch them outdoors.”
Johnson said the fireworks business is picking up this year because of COVID-19, as stay-at-home orders lift and people are looking for outdoor activities to enjoy.
“We started out here on June 20,” he said. “Buyers have been steady, and it’s definitely up from last year. With different fireworks shows being cancelled, a lot of people are doing their own at home.”
According to Johnson, customers from as far as Vermont have visited the tent while coming through Lebanon. He expects the July 3 sales rush will make it his most successful year to date.
First-time tent manager Lane Price is having a similar experience. Both he and Johnson work for MAD Fireworks, and Price’s tent on South Cumberland Street is a newly added location where tornado-damaged businesses were torn down.
“I feel like with social distancing and fireworks being an open-air activity people can do at home we’re seeing a lot of traffic,” first-time fireworks tent manager Lane Price said. “We’ve had a lot of people from surrounding counties like Smith and Davidson, and with this tent being on 231 we may be able to pull in people from Florida to Michigan.”