Firework entertainment industry turns to congress for help

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INDIANAPOLIS – The fireworks industry is either booming or destroyed this season, depending on who you ask.

Firework sales aimed at your everyday consumer have never been better, but the federally regulated fireworks for big events are going to sit in storage this Independence Day.

Melrose Pyrotechnics in Kingsbury, Indiana, is sitting on 1.5 million pounds of fireworks that are illegal to sell to non-federally licensed consumers.

“Of course small companies like mine depend on lines of credit to finance inventory and then pay it back at the end of July,” explained president of the company, Mike Cartolano.

Since most firework events are canceled due to pandemic, the company won’t be able to pay it back. Last year, it hosted 340 big firework displays.

“This year, we have less than 60 at last count and still a very fluid situation as we speak. Things keep changing every morning,” said Cartolano.

He is hoping to get assistance from Congress. Indiana U.S. Senator Todd Young is fighting to make it happen with the RESTART Act.

“This new RESTART program provides loans covering up to six months of payroll and fixed operating expenses, like rent, for businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during this pandemic,” explained Sen. Young.

Forgiveness of these loans would be based on revenue lost from COVID-19.

“We’re not trying to profit from the season, we are not trying to profit from the pandemic. We just need help to be here,” said Cartolano.

Meanwhile, firework stores that are allowed to sell to everyday consumers say they have never seen more success.

“It’s been overwhelming,” said Rick Pridemore, the owner of AAA Fireworks.

His store has seen a 170% increase in sales this year, and it isn’t even the 4th of July yet.

“We do 95% of our business on the 4th of July, so for us to be up 170% at this point is astronomical,” exclaimed Pridemore.

He said he has seen a lot of neighborhood associations come in so people can watch displays from the safety and comfort of their own homes this holiday.

Congress should get a look at the RESTART Act sometime this month.

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