Spevak: Fireworks sales

June 27, 2014 

Corruption. Bonebreaker. Delirium. When I first heard these names, I thought they might be rock groups or three new television series.

They are part of my homework in preparing to work in the Los Banos Rotary fireworks booth, opening Saturday at the corner of Sixth Street and Pacheco Boulevard.

The Rotary Club is one of several nonprofit organizations that won a local lottery to sponsor a booth. Even though a booth is a great deal of work, local organizations know that selling fireworks for the Fourth of July is a good fundraiser.

With extra funds from its booth, the Rotary Club, for example, will offer more scholarships to local high school students, increase its support for the local Boy Scouts and provide more help to the library (to name just a few of the Rotary projects).

It’s been several years since the club was a lottery winner and had a booth, so I’ve been trying to get up to speed by checking out websites and by remembering the last time I worked selling fireworks.

Because the Los Banos Rotary Club is selling TNT fireworks, I’ve been checking out the TNT web site. That’s when I encountered Corruption and Delirium.

As I continued to explore the site, I found names of products that don’t sound as menacing - like Ferris Wheel, Ground Bloom Flower, and Mr. Turtle. (I also saw products with names even scarier than Bonebreaker.)

Then I went back in my mind to the last time I sold fireworks in the Rotary booth several years ago. I was kept busy on my shifts during the six days the booth was open, especially as July 4 approached.

I am not a big spender or a big risk-taker when it comes to fireworks. My purchases each year are small and focus on simple things like sparklers. However, if someone else buys a package of fancy fireworks and sets them off in a safe place (like the street in front of my house), I’ll watch and enjoy them.

When I last worked in a fireworks booth, I saw many people taking great delight in fireworks - children and adults. I enjoyed seeing their expressions as they looked at all their options. They were like kids in a candy store, adults in a bakery, or anyone in an ice cream shop with 59 flavors.

I could see in their expressions the anticipation of a fireworks show, large or small. They seemed to imagine each pop, scream, splash, fizz, gush and blast.

It was comforting to know that the fireworks we were selling were safe. If handled correctly, they could provide plenty of light and sound without endangering the people setting them off or watching them soar or spin.

Sometimes people who came to the booth spent a little and sometimes they spent a lot (although only one or two bought the biggest package for $500). In some cases I could tell they had been saving up for the Fourth of July, as they unrolled a pack of small bills or set on the counter a jar of coins.

In all cases, I was glad to tell them that their purchase, large or small, was benefiting their community - a more generous scholarship, more treats for the kids who come to the library’s Wee Wigglers or Lectura para Niños programs, or a little more help for Scouts headed to a jamboree.

Between noon and 8 p.m. Saturday through July 4, if you happen to be passing by the intersection of Pacheco Boulevard and Sixth Street, pull into the parking lot on the northeast corner and stop by the Rotary fireworks booth. (By the way, the “No-Dud Guarantee” applies not only to the products but to the Rotarians selling them.)

You’ll find behind the counter Rotarians like Marg, George, Brenda, Mike, Mary, Dick, Toni or Tony, who will greet you with a friendly hello. (You’ll also experience the same friendliness in booths run by other community organizations.)

Even if you don’t buy anything (like Super Snazzy, Star Voyager or Cascading Waterfall), come and see in the faces of customers the wonder and delight of setting off their fireworks.

Comments on the writings of John Spevak, a California Newspaper Publishers Association Blue Ribbon Finalist for 2013, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to john.spevak@gmail.com.

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