Fireworks laws go boom

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2003

By Leonard Gray-Staff Writer

LAPLACE – With the holiday season upon us, it’s also fireworks season in the River Parishes, and fireworks retailers are preparing for their steady stream of customers.

And, with the sale and use of fireworks come the rules, according to the laws in each respective parish.

St. John the Baptist Parish-

It is unlawful for any person, persons, groups, firm or agency to discharge any type of fireworks or small explosives usually associated with holiday celebrations, other than specifically provided for.

Exceptions are allowed for Independence Day, Christmas Eve, Chrismas Day and New Year’s Day, from sundown to 10 p.m.; and New Year’s Eve, from sundown to 1 a.m.

All fireworks use will be under the supervision of responsible adults and anyone under age 15 may not discharge fireworks without adult supervision.

Retail sales of fireworks are restricted to seven days in advance of the holiday and no fireworks may be sold within 1,000 feet of any facility making, using, handling or storing flammable material, or used within 1,000 feet of such facility.

Also, fireworks may not be sold nearer than 500 feet of any residence, school, hospital, nursing home or church, or used with 500 feet of such facilities, if occupied.

Fireworks may not be discharged near paper, dry grass, wood or wood pulp and shall not be modified from their original design.

Other use of fireworks for political, educational, religious, sporting, charity or similar special event may be done with written permission of the sheriff’s office and parish Civil Defense Department. Liability insurance of $2 million is mandatory.

Maximum penalty for violation of this misdemeanor is a fine from $50 to $500.

St. Charles Parish-

The sale, storage, possession and firing or other use of fireworks of any type is prohibited within the parish. The only exception is for supervised public displays of fireworks, provided the displayer first gets a fireworks display permit from the state fire marshal’s office and the company is insured with a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance.

Any displayer must give the sheriff’s office and the local fire department at least 10 days’ notice.

Maximum penalty for violation of this misdemeanor is a $100 fine or 30 days in jail or both.

They’re a long, long way from home, but Randy and Brenda Taylor are having an explosive time in St. John the Baptist Parish, selling fireworks for the holidays.

The couple both work for the public school system there, she as a truant officer and he as a teacher and former basketball coach. This is their first Christmas visit to Louisiana, and they’re having a ball.

Located at the St. Charles Parish line on Airline Highway, they’re aware of all the local laws affecting fireworks, such as fireworks being illegal to possess or use in St. Charles Parish. They also keep an eye on age, since no one unde the age of 15 can buy fireworks unless accompanied by a parent.

But Brenda is thoroughly enjoying Christmas in south Louisiana. “We left eight inches of snow to come here,” she said with a broad, ready smile. She’s also already discovered the local cuisine, such as andouille. “The food is rich! I love it!”

It’s common near Springfield, Mo., for teachers to sell fireworks for the Fourth of July. “A lot of teachers do it,” she said. “You need something to do. It’s perfect for couples to supplement their incomes.”

However, there’s no fireworks sales in Missouri for the Christmas/New Year’s holidays, so when the opportunity came from Red Rocket Fireworks to come to LaPlace, the couple jumped at the chance.

“She wanted to come, because she’d never been here. I’ve been here before, bowhunting, but never for Christmas,” he said.

One welcome surprise besides the warmer weather and the excellent local food is the business generated. “People really go all-out here for fireworks,” he said. The biggest sellers include the artillery packages, plus the kiddie novelty items.

He loves to just chat with customers and enjoys the visits of people to the stand. “He really has the gift of gab,” she commented.

It’s also an adventure – a couple in a new place, making friends and enjoying better weather.