Nebraska allows more fireworks, but shortages expected this season

NEBRASKA CITY – The Nebraska Legislature recently opened the state up to some previously banned fireworks, but some Fourth of July favorites may still be hard to find this summer.

Robyn Ferguson, who has operated the One Nation Fireworks stand the past 10 years, says Americans turned to their pyrotechnic desires during the pandemic when social distancing forced the cancellation of many public shows.

The Nebraska City Jaycees canceled  their traditional show in Nebraska City, but officials say private fireworks lit up the Independence Day skies more than ever.

Ferguson: “Our stand sold completely out of fireworks before midnight on the Fourth of July, which has never happened.”

She said the demand for fireworks appears to remain high, but inventories from last year are depleted and some new orders are doubtful.

Ferguson: “I talked to my distributors and they are saying they are going to get only, probably, 60 percent of the inventory ordered. Some of the orders are in. They made it through customs. They are sitting in the docks in Florida, but they don’t have the workers, the labor force, to unload the cargo ships.”

Up to 90 percent of fireworks are imported, particularly from China, where production facilities had closed over portions of last year due to the pandemic. To make matters worse, shipments that have arrived at the United States are bogged down at harbors with labor shortages.

She said One Nation usually places orders in March and is being told that up to 50 percent of the inventory the stand’s shopping cart will not be available.  Despite the potential shortages, Ferguson said the new Nebraska regulations are a positive.

Ferguson: “It’s going to be a great year. We’re still going to have products. Prices are going to be a little bit more, so be prepared for that, but we’re still going to have a great Fourth of July.”

She said the new state regulations will allow popular items, such as bottle rockets and night parachutes.