Jun 302009
Authors: Stacey K. Borage

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, many students anticipate setting off their own fireworks despite warnings from authorities: risk takers won’t just get a slap on the wrist; instead, they’ll get slapped with a $250 fine every time they’re caught playing with fireworks.

“(We) advise people that fireworks are illegal within city limits,” Assistant Fire Marshal Shaun Brann said. “Unfortunately, many people choose to ignore that, and we try our best to educate (them).” Poudre Fire Authority and CSU send out press releases every year, hoping to persuade the public against the use of consumer fireworks within city limits.

Regardless of the efforts, many students are willing to risk it.

“(My friend and I) are definitely going to set off our own fireworks,” said Derek Boyd, a senior liberal arts major. Luckily for Boyd, he lives outside city limits, and even though it’s legal to set off his own, the choices are limited.

“In the most basic of terms, if it leaves the ground or goes boom, then it is not legal in the state of Colorado,” Brann said.

In accordance with these restrictions, fireworks stands do not sell bottle rockets, anything that flies above 15 feet or is unpredictable in its movements or flight.

The restriction leaves the deprived craving more and speaking out.

“I think limiting it to sparklers (in the county) is pretty lame,” Boyd said. “Usually around the Fourth of the July, (the restrictions) used to pertain a lot to whether the fire dangers were really high on how strict they got.”

Contrary to popular belief, the threat of drought or floods doesn’t dictate the fate of fireworks, Brann said.

Despite the overly wet season this year, some people are starting early, said Blue Hovatter, a CSU math tutor.

“I’ve already seen the remnants of fireworks on the streets as I walk by,” he said. “People are already starting to fire these things off. It’s funny because this is always been how it works every single year.”

Lori Frank, a Fort Collins crime analyst, reports nine citations issued and 392 complaints made last year — eight fewer citations and 61 fewer complaints from the previous year.

And based on the current state of the economy, Brann thinks those numbers will go down.

“Based on recent sales information, I anticipate . many people may not spend their hard earned money on fireworks,” he said.

Pete’s Fireworks, a stand just east of Fort Fun on Mulberry, stays quiet in the day with only a few customers stopping by; regardless, owner Pete Sakala disagrees with Brann.

“We think it’s going to be a better year because people are staying in town,” he said. “It picks up on the weekends and then a little before July 4.”

Pete’s Fireworks is permitted to be there because its location is outside of city limits and doesn’t sell anything that the consumer wouldn’t be able to control, like Bottle Rockets.

Even with a fireworks shop outside of town, there’s still talk among students about making a road trip to Wyoming to acquire the unauthorized kind.

Legal or illegal, senior psychology major Rebekah Kennedy doesn’t think defining the current policy will change minds.

“(I think) people who go to Wyoming and go to all the work of buying fireworks are going to light them wherever they want to anyway,” she said.

To Brann, that’s still no excuse, and he stresses the fact that authorities will be on the lookout for any fireworks in the city and any illegal fireworks in the county.

“(People) who are caught risk being issued a summons and losing their fireworks, time and money,” Brann said.

Staff writer Stacey K. Borage can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Civic Center Entertainment

Time: Begins at 11 a.m.

Where: Civic Center Park (Just behind the Justice Center on LaPorte Ave. and Mason St.)

Festivities: Includes music, gymnastics, snocones, food, a petting zoo and craft booths, along with bounce castles and hands-on games

Old Town Square Entertainment

Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Fort Collins Old Town Square (at College and Mountain Ave.)

Festivities: Live music, a beer garden and more

Fireworks at City Park presented by Poudre Valley Health System

Time: Fireworks begin at dusk (estimated time 9:35 p.m.)

Where: Fireworks are shot over Sheldon Lake

Price: Free admission and open to the public

Transportation: Free TransFort shuttle service will be available to and from the fireworks display from the Downtown Transit Center and CSU Towers Parking Lot to City Park. Shuttle rides begin at 5:30 p.m. and end at 10:30 p.m.

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