Love and rockets come with a bang

Friday, July 1, 2011
With the help of a digital TV program, Angie Moffett shows her customer, Jamar Fletcher, what to expect after he lights the fuse of fireworks he wants to buy.

Enjoying a big bang with your own fireworks on the Fourth of July is as American as Mom and apple pie, so it only seemed natural when a couple planning to get married during the holiday weekend went to buy fireworks on Lewisburg's bypass this week.

That's how Angie Moffett and Randy McQueen explained it Wednesday morning at their fireworks stand where she reported their supplier suggested that the couple be sold a "Sky Lantern" for their nuptials. During that ceremony the newly weds would hold and then release a small hot air balloon made of paper.

Beyond being a romantic touch for the ceremony, the husband will never forget their wedding anniversary date.

Moffett and McQueen didn't share the happy couple's identity, but the popularity of the "Sky Lantern" product was well known to one of their competitors on the bypass.

"'Sky Lanterns' are real popular because of the movie 'Tangled,'" a Disney cartoon movie based on Rapunzel, Tammy Harmon of Milltown says while on duty for Dennis and Linda Salway, proprietors of Amazing Designs.

Moffett and McQueen formed their own local partnership to sell fireworks after they did so volunteering their time for the Tiger Hoops Booster Club.

"So far, we've increased each year" in sales," McQueen said, guaranteeing their fireworks will explode even though heavy rain and strong winds have been a real challenge for those working from tents. "If they don't go off, bring them back."

"Sunday," Moffett said, "it rained like crazy and it blew. When it blows like that, you're holding on to tent poles and when it's lightning, we still hold onto the poles. We do. We did. First day we were out here we did and holding the product down. These products are covered. We put plastic over them."

Of course lightning isn't the only threat to fireworks.

"I've had people come in smoking," McQueen said, "and I tell them, 'Whoa. Can't do that.'"

Other controlling factors include rules laid down by the owners and those set by the city.

At the fireworks stand where a black hearse is parked, bearing the words "Killing the Competition," there's another sign that says buyers must be age 16 or older.

"I'm not real sure why that is," Harmon said, "but here were little kids who were buying bottle rockets and shooting each other when their parents weren't there. If they're 16, they should be smart enough to know better."

Harmon likes fireworks. She sits on her front porch and lets her son light the fuses.

As for what's popular, she says it's "Boys and noise; Girls and pretty." So, sky lanterns offer a way to a girl's heart while speedballs and mighty crackers fill the bill for the boys.

Then, there's the happy tale of the mother and her young son.

A preschool boy who lives in the neighborhood behind the stand run by Moffett and McQueen got his mother to buy one of the fireworks that shoots high into the air and returns to ground with a parachute above a toy soldier.

They launched the rocket, McQueen said, but the parachute got stuck in a tree and they couldn't get it down.

"So his mother bought him another," McQueen said. "She took him to Rock Creek Park where they shot it off and then we saw him walk back with the parachute in one hand and his mother's hand in his other hand."