Fireworks bans hampering local vendors, fundraisers
By DAWNE LEIKER
Fireworks vendors and fundraising groups have adjusted their game plans this year due to fireworks bans in Ellis County.
The last few years have taken a toll on vendors with a late ban of fireworks in 2012 and decisions this year by governing bodies in Hays, Ellis, Schoenchen, Victoria and Ellis County to prohibit the sale and discharge of fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday.
"It's kind of taken the fun out of it," said Daniel Thyfault, owner of Taz's Fireworks. "Last year really took the guts out of it, but it was just way too dry and we knew that."
Thyfault, who sold fireworks in Hays in the past, will sell his products starting this week in Hill City, WaKeeney, Salina, Grinnell and Cimarron. He said it's unfortunate he will be unable to sell fireworks in Hays, but he is more concerned with looking toward the future. He said he understands local government officials were in a "tough spot" when it came to making a fireworks decision.
"Last year was just one of those years," he said. "There was nothing you could do about it, but lick your wounds and hope for the best."
Rick Binder, sponsor of the CYO at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hays, said he, too, understands the decision was difficult for local leaders.
The local CYO used fireworks sales as a main fundraiser for six years prior to last year's ban. Now, the group is looking for ideas to replace that fundraising effort.
"We do have to find a substitute fundraiser," Binder said. "The most difficult part is, all my parents and families have already worked their schedules out.
"They've made arrangements at work, and they've done other things to try to help out, knowing this was the time we were going to operate it"
Looking toward the future, Binder said he's "90 percent positive" the organization no longer will consider fireworks as a fundraiser.
Funds from the fireworks stand have been set aside in the past to send CYO youth to the National Catholic Youth Conference. Fifty-seven youth from the organization plan to attend the conference this year. Parishioners stepped up last year with contributions to help fill the gap left because of the fireworks ban.
"It wasn't near what we would make with the fireworks stand, but it did help," Binder said. "We have several ideas (for fundraisers). I'm not sure which ones we'll go with yet, but we'll be fine."
One local fireworks vendor moved his stand to Rush County last year when fireworks were banned in Ellis County. Bob Munsch, owner of Linda's Fireworks, said the stand will be in Rush County again this year.
Although the stand was "extremely busy" last year, Munsch said, the ban late in the season was a hardship. As owner of Linda's Fireworks for 23 years, Munsch said the Ellis County ban won't change his persistence in keeping the 50-year-old business up and running.
"We're going to continue," he said. "It's a family business I've handed off to my sons.
"They grew up doing it. Just because the county's banning it, doesn't mean it's the end of the world."