Fireworks producers looking for help from federal government as shows cancel due to pandemic

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GREENWOOD, Mo. — Fireworks display producers fear their business is fizzling, even with Independence Day approaching.

Companies that arrange large public fireworks shows are seeking relief from Capitol Hill. Representatives from the pyrotechnics industry told FOX4 pandemic-related cancellations of public fireworks displays make their business feel like a dud.

Wald and Company, a Greenwood, Missouri based business that produces large fireworks displays, operates a warehouse and retail shop on Hwy 291 near Lake Winnebago.

The warehouse tells a tough tale. It’s usually packed with consumer grade fireworks, but in the age of COVID-19, where so many metro fireworks shows are being canceled, many of those products have been sold. The company would prefer to sell display grade fireworks, which are kept in a separate warehouse.

“The cities are taking extreme precaution, which they should be,” Steven Whitt, a fireworks display manager, said. “It’s been a very rough year for everybody.”

Whitt said most summers would see Wald and Company produce 140 fireworks displays, which would gather large crowds of people. In 2020, the company has only 80 performances on the books. That means business is down by nearly 45 percent.

“We do have a few of our cancelations that say — hey, hang onto our stuff. We’re going to try to do it, maybe Labor Day or at the end of July. It all depends on what happens with the COVID,” Whitt said.

Whitt said cities such as Lee’s Summit, Overland Park and Parkville have canceled their July Fourth fireworks displays to discourage crowds from gathering, and risking the spread of coronavirus. Wald and Company also sells consumer grade fireworks. Whitt said that’s helped the company recoup some of their losses, but other fireworks display companies haven’t been as fortunate. June Heckman, executive director with the American Pyrotechnics Association, said companies that rely solely on large fireworks displays are down 80-90 percent.

“They’re on life support now,” Heckman told FOX4. “We’re hopeful and optimistic we will get together once again. The question is — will these small family businesses last enough to be here when we can finally gather?“

 The American Pyrotechnic Association was due to have its annual convention in Kansas City this October. However, Heckman said the group says it had to cancel, having realized its members can’t afford to travel for. business right now.

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