Recession hasn't taken sparkle out of fireworks business

For those who help put a bang in America's Fourth of July celebrations, business is still booming. There are scattered reports of communities and businesses canceling their fireworks displays because of the economic downturn, but those in the industry say they haven't seen a significant drop this year.

In fact, some are seeing the demand for displays or fireworks increase.

"That's real typical during a down economy over the last 30 years," said Steve Showalter, owner of Rainbow Fireworks in Inman. "Sales go up when the economy is down."

"I don't have a crystal ball on why that is, but my thought is people are trying to save money by not taking vacations. They're staying home to barbecue and have their fireworks."

Showalter, who is involved with more than 200 fireworks displays around Kansas, including the HutchFest in Hutchinson, said his customers haven't trimmed budgets.

"The displays are of equal value or higher than last year," he said.

The American Pyrotechnics Association, a national trade organization for the fireworks industry, expects about a 5 percent drop this year in the approximately 14,000 displays normally held in this country each July Fourth.

"But we're not that concerned because we're having more displays throughout the year, not just on the Fourth of July," said executive director Julie Heckman. "We tend to be recession proof."

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