Council votes to ban all fireworks sales

Decision echoes governor's wishes

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— The sparkling colors and crackling booms of fireworks won't be the only thing local residents miss this summer because of city and state firework bans.

Steamboat Springs' two firework stands, which attract local residents and tourists in search of the perfect Fourth of July display every summer, will also be absent.

The City Council agreed to ban the sale and use of fireworks Tuesday night, a decision that echoed Gov. Bill Owens' recent statewide fireworks ban and the city's choice last week not to have the July Fourth fireworks display.

Albert Winograsky is a co-owner of Ray and Albert's Fireworks Stand, which has set up along South 40th Boulevard for several years. For him, the bans mean missing the excitement that children show when they glimpse the more than 150 types of fireworks the stand usually carries.

"It's just the joy of seeing the kids and having them come up to the stand," Winograsky said.

For Dusty Dike, who has managed the stand near 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue for the past three years, the ban means missing the chance to catch up with adults and children in the community.

"You miss the people," Dike said. "It's kind of a once-a-year way to run into all the kids and see how they've grown."

It also means that Dike, a teacher in Fort Collins, and his wife, Tamera Manzanares, a full-time graduate student, will have to find odd jobs to make up for the lost income.

In a typical year, they said they sell more than $10,000 worth of fireworks, which turns into about a $2,500 to $3,000 profit.

For them, the extra earnings from the stand are important.

"It's definitely kind of put us on the spot," Manzanares said. "We are having to put some odd jobs together. It's really a bummer."

Dike said he is working to remodel homes and build furniture instead, and Manzanares said she is making jewelry to sell at local crafts shows.

Even with their losses, both said they think the ban is for the best.

"I couldn't agree more," Dike said, referring to the city's decision to ban fireworks. "At one point (the city) almost left it up to us, and ethically I don't think anybody would sell them. I don't think it'd be a good decision."

Winograsky also supported the ban.

"This is our community, too, and it's not worth what little money we make to see our friends and neighbors go up in smoke," Winograsky said. "It's not going to take much to light up everything."

Winograsky said all fireworks, even small ones such as smoke worms, could start a serious fire. He also said fireworks are dangerous because it's hard to tell whether their sparks have been extinguished.

Although both stands obviously won't make money this summer, the owners said luckily they won't lose any.

Dike and Manzanares' stand is sponsored through another company, so they do not have responsibility for unsold fireworks.

Winograsky said his stand is not sponsored but the governor's ban came a day before he ordered the fireworks. Because no fireworks were ordered, the stand won't lose money.

Wal-Mart and other large stores are also sources of fireworks, but Wal-Mart is not selling fireworks this year said Paul Pirnat, the store's assistant manager.

Pirnat said the store will probably lose several thousand dollars, but unlike the local stands, it has other business and won't be greatly impacted by the ban.

"It'll hurt some," Pirnat said, "but there's enough activity that's going on that we need to take care of that (fireworks) are not our primary concern at all."

As for alternative ways to spend the Fourth of July, Pirnat suggested focusing on friends and family.

"Just spend time with your families and just enjoy each other," he said.

"The fireworks are a nice feature to have, but the fact is that you can still celebrate without having that."

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