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States spending the most on fireworks

  • States spending the most on fireworks

    Summer has arrived—and with it comes socially acceptable white pants, hordes of children unleashed from the bonds of education, and fireworks. LOTS of fireworks.

    Fireworks on the Fourth of July date almost all the way back all the way to the nation's founding. The first celebration of Independence Day was held July 4, 1777, exactly one year after the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The Congress actually declared its independence two days earlier, with John Adams thinking July 2 would forever be the “most memorable epoch in the History of America.” But since the Declaration of Independence was approved after some revisions on the fourth, that's the date popular history remembers. At that first Independence Day celebration in 1777, there were boats decked in red, white, and blue, 13-gun salutes (representing the 13 colonies) and, of course, fireworks.

    In the modern-day U.S., consumer fireworks are a $1 billion dollar business. Most of that consumption does occur right around the Fourth of July—and in all states but one (Massachusetts), some types of fireworks are legal to buy. Several states have additional restrictions on airborne fireworks, but allow sparklers and other, less intense fireworks. Americans' love of fireworks isn't limited to Independence Day, though: “Display fireworks,” which are used in commercial displays rather than set off by consumers, are themselves a $360 million business. Thus, even in states in which consumer fireworks are tightly regulated, fireworks shows still happen regularly at sporting events, festivals, and concerts.

    States which tightly regulate fireworks have a solid rationale: exploding things are dangerous. ValuePenguin reports a 325% spike in injuries between July 3 and 4, with “the majority 17.1% of these injuries happen to children ages 5 to 10 years.” Massachusetts's Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds consumers that even sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. There are some key steps to keeping everyone safe: don't let kids near the fireworks, keep cold water on hand, and don't go anywhere near any airborne fireworks after they've been lit; even if they appear to be dormant, throw water on them first just in case.

    Now that the party poopery is out of the way, check out our gallery of states spending the most on fireworks, ranked by imports to the state per capita based on data from the U.S. Trade Census. States are ranked based on their imports in 2019, the most recent full year of data which is available. Delaware has not imported sufficient fireworks in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to be included in this database. 2020 data are not available for Rhode Island, Georgia, and North Carolina, and only 2018 data are available for Alaska.

    States across the country have seen a massive uptick in the number of fireworks being purchased and set off—often recklessly and illegally—during the coronavirus shutdown. This list does not include that surge as the data go only through April 2020.

    Read on to find out which state spends a whopping $8.80 per person on fireworks and which states only spend pennies.

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  • #49. Alaska

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.31 per person (0.7% below national average)

    Major cities like Anchorage have canceled their fireworks displays this July 4th in Alaska, but it’s not all bad news for revelers. Last year, the state banned both the use and sale of fireworks due to dry fire-hazard conditions, but officials recently lifted the ban, so Alaskans can at least light up the sky on their own.

  • #48. Rhode Island

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.23 per person (0.8% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.02 per person (1.0% below national average)

    Fireworks displays have been canceled or postponed in virtually all of Rhode Island. With ground-based fireworks now legal in the state, however, fireworks companies are advertising heavily there, and a big increase in homemade pre-Fourth pyrotechnic displays are rankling law enforcement in the state.

  • #47. Massachusetts

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.03 per person (1.0% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.03 per person (1.0% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2020, Jan. through April: $0.00 per person (1.0% below national average)

    Fireworks events in Plymouth, Worcester, and the famous Boston Pops celebration in Boston have all been canceled this year. A Boston Central events calender published on June 25, however, lists a whole bunch of TBDs for cities and towns across Massachusetts that are considering hosting their own fireworks shows at a later date.

  • #46. Georgia

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.04 per person (1.0% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.04 per person (1.0% below national average)

    Like most of America, public fireworks displays have been canceled or postponed throughout virtually all of Georgia. Private citizens, however, can legally blast off their own fireworks until 11:59 p.m. on Independence Day unless their local municipality has a noise ordinance that forbids it.

  • #45. New Mexico

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.09 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.05 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2020, Jan. through April: $0.03 per person (0.9% below national average)

    New Mexico’s largest metropolitan centers have canceled their planned fireworks displays, but smaller towns like the Village of Los Lunas and Rio Rancho are going ahead with their plans, but with some modifications. Both of those towns and several others are moving to different locations that allow spectators to watch while practicing social distancing.

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  • #44. North Carolina

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.03 per person (1.0% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.05 per person (0.9% below national average)

    Major public fireworks shows have been canceled across North Carolina with almost no exceptions. Charlotte and Raleigh have thrown in the towel, as have smaller towns and tourist enclaves throughout the state, often to the chagrin of local business owners.

  • #43. West Virginia

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.16 per person (0.8% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.10 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2020, Jan. through April: $0.02 per person (0.9% below national average)

    Fireworks displays have been canceled in virtually every major town and city in West Virginia. Some, like Wheeling, are considering trying again later in the summer.

  • #42. New York

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.16 per person (0.8% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.11 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2020, Jan. through April: $0.05 per person (0.8% below national average)

    Most of New York has canceled plans to light up the sky, but not the home of the most famous fireworks display in America. New York City is taking the unusual step of holding its iconic Macy’s July 4th Fireworks show across all five boroughs in unannounced bursts. Major aerial fireworks displays will take place randomly and without warning for a full week to prevent New Yorkers from gathering to watch them.

  • #41. Minnesota

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.16 per person (0.8% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.12 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2020, Jan. through April: $0.05 per person (0.8% below national average)

    By early May, it was already clear that most Minnesotans would not be watching fireworks displays this Fourth of July. Minneapolis has canceled its show and St. Paul hasn’t hosted a fireworks display of its own for two years. The city of Edina has is planning to stream a virtual fireworks show live.

  • #40. Colorado

    - Fireworks imported in 2018: $0.14 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2019: $0.12 per person (0.9% below national average)
    - Fireworks imported in 2020, Jan. through April: $0.05 per person (0.8% below national average)

    Unlike most of America, many Colorado towns are still going forward with their fireworks shows—there will be at least 42 displays across the state. More than 70 others, however, have been canceled.

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