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Americans love their fireworks, to the tune of $1.2 billion

Spending is up sharply since 2000, though the pyrotechnics industry is worried about the prospect of tariffs on imports from China.

Craig Allen of New York fills up his

Craig Allen of New York fills up his shopping cart with fireworks June 27 at the Phantom Fireworks in Hinsdale, N.H. Photo Credit: The Brattleboro Reformer via AP/Kristopher Radder

Americans spent $1.2 billion on fireworks in 2017, from sparklers in backyards to shimmering rockets over Jones Beach, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Spending on fireworks fluctuates from year to year, but the trend is clearly rising. Americans spent $602 million on fireworks in 2000, about half the level of last year. The volume of fireworks has also grown during that time, to 254.4 million pounds from 152.2 million pounds.

Nationally, consumer spending on fireworks grew from $407 million in 2000 to $885 million last year, the APA said.

Nassau and Suffolk counties ban all consumer fireworks, though some revelers have been known to bring them in from municipalities where they are legal.

About 70 percent of display fireworks used by professionals and 99 percent of consumer fireworks are imported from China, according to the APA.

So far, the Trump administration’s tariff policies have not yet targeted fireworks imports. Nevertheless, the fireworks industry is “keeping an eye on the situation,” said Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the APA. Any tariffs imposed on consumer fireworks, such as firecrackers and bottle rockets, would be “very significant,” she said.

Italy and Spain also export fireworks to the U.S. market.

Felix “Phil” Grucci, president and chief executive of Long Island’s Fireworks by Grucci Inc., the Bellport-based company that is one of the best known pyrotechnics businesses in the world, said tariffs “would have more of an effect on the consumer fireworks industry” than on companies focused on professional fireworks displays. That’s because the cost of the fireworks themselves are only part of the cost of a professional fireworks show, which also includes engineering, design and specialized transportation arrangements for explosives, which require safety permits and special insurance.

Moreover, if Chinese supplies were interrupted, Grucci’s manufacturing arm could boost domestic production, he said.

Grucci’s manufacturing arm also provides the Defense Department with simulated hand grenades and ground bursts to train U.S. soldiers. “About 50 percent of the Grucci family business is manufacturing for the Department of Defense,” Grucci said.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia now allow consumers to buy some form of fireworks, and a gradual loosening of laws have spurred rising demand, Heckman said.

The only state with a blanket ban on consumer fireworks is Massachusetts, which should have its native son John Adams “rolling in his grave,” Heckman said.

She said it was Adams who foretold the celebration of Independence Day in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, writing: “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with ... guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

" 'Illuminations' are fireworks,” Heckman said.

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