For fireworks vendors, this really is Christmas in July. And those in northwest Indiana say business has been booming in the final days leading up to the Independence Day holiday, especially compared to last year.
"This last weekend, it was a tell-tale about how we're going to end up, and the sales were very strong this weekend," Greg Kaplan, the owner of Hammond's Krazy Kaplan's said Monday.
Last year's dry conditions were among the reasons offered by one retailer as to why sales were down.
"One, the soft economy; two, July Fourth was mid-week on a Wednesday; and, three, the drought," Tom O’Connor, the owner of Merrillville's Boomtown Fireworks USA, explained to The Times of Northwest Indiana. "Lots of places had complete bans on fireworks. This year we are making up for last year. Sales have been extremely encouraging."
Those sales come with a risk to customers. Eighty-three fireworks injuries were reported last year in Indiana. The state's Department of Health said most of those injuries -- 61 percent -- occurred on private property, and 36 percent of them involved children under the age of 18. More than half the injuries were caused by malfunctioning fireworks or improper use.
In Illinois, which has a ban on most fireworks, 41 people were hospitalized last year due to fireworks injuries. Another 241 people were treated and released, officials said.
In Chicago, the rules against fireworks are even more strict. A Chicago Fire Department spokesman on Monday said, basically, "If it goes bang or has a flame," it's illegal to use within city limits. That includes sparklers.
Illinois Fire Marshal: Approved, Prohibited Fireworks (Outside Chicago):