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Lighting up the fourth

Airallyn Minchow, 7, eyes some of the fireworks at Atlantis Fireworks Friday afternoon. Airallyn was shopping for Fourth of July fun with her dad, Jeff Minchow. Airallyn Minchow, 7, eyes some of the fireworks at Atlantis Fireworks Friday afternoon. Airallyn was shopping for Fourth of July fun with her dad, Jeff Minchow. Tribune photo by Tom Lawrence

Fireworks stands staffed by people who have a strong devotion to the explosives business

It’s as if — wham! — they have gunpowder — pow! — in their veins.

The people staffing the two fireworks stands in Powell may seem quite dissimilar, separated by gender and a few generations.

But Wes and Linda Learned, who own Atlantis Fireworks, located in the Blair’s Market parking lot, and Alex and Brooklyn Good, who are running their dad’s stand in the American Legion parking lot, share a devotion to the explosive industry.

Wes Learned, 68, said he has loved fireworks his entire life. He started selling firecrackers at his dad’s Studebaker dealership in downtown Powell when he was a boy.

“That was the first go-around,” he said. It would not be the last.

Alex Good, 17, and her sister Brooklyn, 15, can’t remember a time when their family wasn’t involved in the fireworks business. Born in Byron, they grew up in Powell as their dad Chris Good owned and operated stands and put on fireworks shows in the area.

Wes Learned said he has stayed in business for more than three decades because of his love for fireworks, as well as knowledge he has built up over the years.

“Most everything, except some of the brand-new items, I’ve shot,” he said. “If you don’t know what it is, you can’t sell it.”

Learned said he not only sells fireworks, he still enjoys seeing them light up a night sky. The only difference is now, his grandkids set them off.

“Can’t run fast enough to get away from them,” he said in a typically wry joke.

There’s no doubt that some of the bigger items he stocks and sells would get anyone moving. Learned points out the Cowboy Crazy, which sells for $105.99. It contains nine artillery shells.

Another big seller is the Fort Sentinel, which sells for $61.99. It will fire off 52 ear-ringing shots. They are among the more than 200 kinds of Class C fireworks on sale at the stand.

The stand opened June 10, and the Learneds, along with their son Scott, who always works the final four days when customers pack the stand, will be serving customers through July 5.

July 4 always is the busiest day of the season, Wes said, but they close the stand at 9 p.m. that night so everyone can enjoy the public display.

Like the Learneds, the Good girls said big-ticket items are increasingly a major part of their business. While they sell some firecrackers and other smaller items, they emphasize explosive hot-sellers like The Exterminator, which fires off 24 canister shells. It sells for $109.95.

“People want the bigger artillery, and that’s the biggest we got,” Alex said.

She said their stand will be open through July 5 or 6. Business has been a little slow, but one thing she has learned in her life around the fireworks business — as the Fourth approaches, more people have to have something to explode.

Wes Learned said he sometimes sells to a group of people who pool their money to put on a large private display. Some will spend up to $500 for such a show, he said.

Of course, he also sells a few dollars of firecrackers to kids who want to make some noise during the summer’s hottest holiday.

“You never know who’s coming,” he said.

But he sells to all of them, making a pitch or two as he explains what he has to offer. An avid football fan who has won the Powell Tribune football contest repeatedly over seven decades, Learned said he knows fireworks and football.

He plans to sell fireworks — wham! — as long as he can.

“I did it for 33 years,” Learned said. “Why should I quit?”

Powell fireworks Thursday night

Powell Volunteer Fire Department firefighters will once again put on a fireworks show south of Powell on the Fourth of July.

The fireworks show south of town starts around 10 p.m. Gates open at 8 p.m., said Fire Chief Joey Darrah.

To get to the site, go east on South Street (Lane 9) and take a right (south) on Road 7, just before the cemetery. City ordinances ban fireworks in Powell.

“Anything that explodes, causes sparks or flames,” said Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt, “no, you can’t do that.”

Roman candles and bottle rockets not only increase the risk of grass and tree fires, but houses too, Eckerdt said.

“Don’t do it near buildings,” Darrah said.

Keep a close eye on your kids: “Any pyrotechnics should be done under adult supervision,” Eckerdt said.

Use care handling fireworks, he advised, or you may regret it later.

“It could definitely ruin a good day,” Eckerdt said.

Firefighters will collect donations around town to purchase pyrotechnics for next year

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