A mischievous grin began to stretch across the face of 12-year-old Irving Rodriguez as he held up a box of “Torpedo” fire crackers.
“Torpedoes are my favorite because they’re loud,” said Rodriquez, as he stood before a display at John’s Bombs Fireworks at the corner of Andrews Hwy. and Georgia St.
Enthusiasm similar to Rodriguez’s was evident at numerous fireworks stands throughout Ector County this week as customers’ young of age and heart began gearing up for Fourth of July festivities.
Everything from kid favorites like ‘snaps’ and multi-colored sparklers, and more adult-appropriate fireworks like The Terminator package were already being snatched off the shelves at John’s Bombs on Tuesday. Despite its relatively small size, the stand carries an impressive variety of fireworks.
The family-owned fireworks business is smaller than many other similar shops throughout the county, but their prices and customer service can’t be beat.
“Our prices are much lower than the bigger stands,” said Tyler Wells, who manages the business on Andrews. His brother JC Stone has owned and operated two stands in the county for the past five years.
Stone also believes in giving back to the community. Irving Rodriquez and his brother Alan Rodriguez, 14 and their mother Lulu Lopez were selected to help run the Andrews stand this week. In return, owner Stone will donate a percentage of his proceeds to Odessa Bible Church, where Lopez and her sons attend.
“We try to make it fun for customers who visit our business,” Wells said. “We have free giveaways every day. People just have to visit our Facebook page and like it or tag a friend and we pick one winner every day.”
On July 4th, an $800 fireworks package will be raffled off and awarded to one lucky winner. To register for the free raffle the public can pick up a ticket at either of the business’s stands which are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through the Fourth.
A short distance away, Truckload Fireworks offers a much larger selection of fireworks, including the newest products such as King of Flames, Sneak Attack and Bite of Death. The three big box items each shoot 260 shots of firework rounds and range in cost from $220 to $270.
They also stock the enormously popular Bigger Assortment family fireworks package that costs $1,050. The package, which sells out every year, includes 66 shells and promises 424 explosions, said Lisa Lara, who has managed the stand at West Yukon and North County Rd. West for the past 11 years.
Truckload Fireworks carries a wide-variety of fireworks for child as young as 3-years-old and adults, said Lara, who is assisted by her 19-year-old nephew Isaac Carrasco.
Lara is eager to encourage fireworks users to always be safety conscious. She recommends keeping a water hose nearby “just in case” an accident occurs and a fire needs to be put out quickly.
She also suggests that people don’t immediately throw away larger fireworks after they’ve been used, because they can still be very hot and burn people or cause a fire. Hose them down with water and then dispose of them the next morning.
Parents who are introducing their children to fireworks for the first time should take it slow, Lara said.
“Grab a red (plastic cup) and put some sparklers inside,” she said. “This will make your child feel safer than holding on to them as they give off sparks.”
Lara also suggests that adults place their fireworks between cinder blocks to keep the “West Texas wind from knocking them over,” after they’ve been ignited.
But most of all, don’t forget to make the fireworks a family fun time, she said.
“I love seeing families come out to the stand and watching the children run back and forth trying to decide what fireworks they want,” Lara said. “You don’t see families doing as much together as they once did. This is something that can bring families together.”
Truckload Fireworks is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight through July 4.