Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A (dangerous?) Fourth favorite

They're cheap, come in packages of 144 and are forever linked to childhood for many people. But after this summer, they will be illegal to buy in North Dakota.

Bottle rockets
Kyle Zacharkiw, 12, picks up a bundle of bottle rockets while shopping for fireworks with his friend, Ryan Telke, 15, at Generous Jerry's Fireworks on Wednesday afternoon. It is the last year that North Dakota residents can purchase bottle rockets. Grand Forks Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

They're cheap, come in packages of 144 and are forever linked to childhood for many people. But after this summer, they will be illegal to buy in North Dakota.

Bottle rockets, those favorite fireworks for kids and kids at heart, no longer can be sold in the state after a ban takes effect Aug. 1. During the legislative session earlier this year, several medical professionals testified that the little explosives attached to a stick cause numerous face and eye injuries each year.

North Dakota lawmakers outlawed the sale of bottle rockets, but state residents still can buy them elsewhere and use them in the state after August as long as they follow local regulations.

A few people came to Generous Jerry's to stock up on entire cases of bottle rockets while they still can, day manager Paul Letvin said. He's also noticed better than average sales on the rockets this year, and said most shoppers disagree with the upcoming ban.

"To a lot of people, it doesn't make much sense," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Use as directed

Letvin admitted that he participated in "bottle rocket wars" as a kid, which are basically battles where people deliberately aim the mini missiles at each other by using metal or PVC tubes as makeshift launchers. It's the kind of thing that would make a mother cringe, but he said his friends were as cautious as possible during their wars.

"We wore goggles," he said. "Obviously, it's a dumb thing to do, but we were kind of safe about it."

But there are inherent risks in everything, he said -- people take a risk when they board a plane, back a car out of the driveway or use fireworks.

Jeff Breyer, the Generous Jerry's store manager, said he didn't know the full reasoning behind the upcoming ban. Just like Letvin, he said his products do have risks, but pointed out they're not dangerous if users follow the instructions.

"With any of the fireworks, they're all safe if used properly," he said. "If it's used properly, no injury will result."

Generous Jerry's supplies products to three states; Minnesota already has a ban on bottle rockets, and North Dakota's ban soon will go into effect. That only leaves Wisconsin open to receiving and selling the fireworks.

Breyer said they might stop carrying bottle rockets entirely because Wisconsin is the smallest state sales-wise and it probably wouldn't be worth it anymore.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fun fireworks

East Grand Forks native Keith Hoiberg, 26, said he's been using bottle rockets for the past eight years. He was in a few bottle rocket wars when he was younger and said none of his friends were ever injured.

He's since retired his PVC pipe launcher but was in Starr Fireworks to get a couple of packs of bottle rockets just for fun Wednesday afternoon. He said he may stockpile the rockets later in the week so he has more for next year.

When asked why he likes bottle rockets, Hoiberg said he has a pretty simple reason. "They blow up," he said. "Every guy's dream is to blow stuff up."

Rebecca Hahn, 20, said she's used bottle rockets in the past and was at Starr to get a few packs for the week. Her younger brother, 16-year-old Kenny Hahn, said he hasn't been in a bottle rocket war -- Rebecca explained they have strict parents that would never let them do that.

Kenny said he likes bottle rockets just because they're fun to launch, and didn't think the state should ban them for everyone after some people injured themselves. "If you're going to be an idiot with them, that's your own fault," he said.

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

ADVERTISEMENT

Bottle rockets
Stacks of bottle rockets fill a table at Generous Jerry's Fireworks on Wednesday afternoon. Multiple signs remind customers that it is the last year that North Dakota residents can purchase bottle rockets. Grand Forks Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

What To Read Next
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.
The Grand Forks Blue Zones Project, which hopes to make Grand Forks not just a healthier city but a closer community, is hosting an event on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Empire Arts Center from 3-5 p.m.
A bill being considered by the North Dakota Legislature would require infertility treatment for public employees — a step that could lead to requiring private insurance for the costly treatments.
2022 saw more than three times as many pediatric (up to age 5) cannabis edible exposures in Minnesota compared to 2021. Here's what you can do to prevent your toddler from getting into the gummies.