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Fireworks - Booming Business

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Organizations counting on fireworks sales as fundraising source

By Joe Foreman, Editor

Two Glenwood organizations are hoping to create a big boom at the cash register this week with the sale of fireworks.

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Campus Life, a Christian-based youth organization, and the Glenwood Band Parents, a booster group for the Glenwood instrumental music program, are both operating fireworks stands as a means of raising funds to support future activities. Fireworks sales became legal in Iowa in 2017 for the first time in nearly 80 years and many youth and non-profit organizations around the state are cashing in.

Campus Life is operating a stand for the second straight year on a parking lot near Flat Iron Laundry on Locust Street. Alex Newby, director of Glenwood’s Campus Life chapter, said last year’s sales of more than $90,000 in fireworks netted the organization around $12,500.

“It was the biggest fundraiser we’ve ever had,” Newby said.

The 2017 fireworks sales funded Campus Life’s annual community block party and provided scholarships for youth to attend a Youth For Christ summer camp. Dollars raised this year will be spent in a similar manner, Newby said.
Newby said operating the fireworks stand involves more than just ringing up purchases.  Volunteers spent nearly 15 hours Sunday unpacking fireworks and setting up displays. On July 5, volunteers will be needed to package and load any unsold merchandise.

“On Unloading and loading day, we can’t have enough help,” Newby said.

The Campus Life fireworks stand is owned and supplied by Nebraska-based Wild Willy’s Fireworks, a business that has worked with several Campus Life chapters in the region.

The Glenwood Band Parents organization is partnering with Bellino Fireworks, also Nebraska based. The fireworks supplier contacted Glenwood Community High School Activities Director Jeff Bissen earlier this year to see if a team or organization at the school wanted to raise money this summer selling fireworks. The Glenwood Band Parents stepped up. Their stand is located in the shopping plaza on the south end of town in front of the Newman’s Thriftway and Shopko Hometown stores. It’s the organization’s first year of selling fireworks.

“All the money we raise is going to help pay for the honor band students going to Tampa later this year to march in the Outback Bowl,” Glenwood Band Parents treasurer Kerri Vaughn said.

Vaughn said the organization is guaranteed to receive $4,000 from Bellino Fireworks with a commission on top of that.
Both Campus Life and the Glenwood Band Parents are required to have at least one person on the premises 24 hours a day. Both stands will sell fireworks through the end of the day on July 4. Per city code, fireworks stands in Glenwood are allowed to be open until 8 p.m. daily.

Newby said he believes the average customer spends about $80, but it isn’t uncommon for someone to spend less than $1 or up to $1,000.

Popular-selling items include traditional firecrackers,  sparklers, skyrockets, fountains and artillery shells. Newby said he’s hopeful the Campus Life and Glenwood Band Parents stands are both successful.

“We don’t view them as competition,” Newby said. “We’re doing it to help kids and they’re doing it to help kids.”

Within the city limits of Glenwood, it’s legal to shoot off fireworks on July 1-3 (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.), July 4 (9 a.m. – 11 p.m.) and July 5 (9 a.m. – 10 p.m.). Fireworks are also allowed Dec. 30 – Jan. 2.