No fireworks on the Fourth? Cities stymied by supply chain woes

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — The Wall Street Journal reported that supply chain shortages are causing some towns to reschedule fireworks celebrations or cancel them altogether. With July Fourth weekend here, NewsNation’s “On Balance With Leland Vittert” brought on a fireworks retail CEO to give context to just how bad the situation is.

“It’s somewhat complicated,” Bruce Zoldan of Phantom Fireworks said during Friday’s edition of “On Balance.” “The fireworks industry has two sides to it: One is consumer backyard fireworks that are regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the other is the large displays that you would see in cities, parks or other special events, and those are regulated by (the Bureau of) Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that places such as the city of Ottawa, Kansas, are pushing their celebrations back to the fourth of September and that Phoenix had to forgo all three of its fireworks shows because it didn’t get enough fireworks in time.

Labor shortages are also affecting fireworks for some cities: In Minneapolis, for example, the Journal reported they did not having enough park workers to secure the site. Similarly, in Fairfax, Virginia, the fireworks company that usually puts on the show did not have pyrotechnicians.

One solution would be making fireworks here, in the United States. But according to NPR, China provides over 94% of consumer fireworks imported to U.S and 70% of professional fireworks imported to the U.S.

When asked about reversing those import percentages, however, Zoldan said it would be very difficult.

“The Chinese have a 1,000-year history of manufacturing fireworks — both consumer and professional,” Zoldan said. “It’s been discussed within our industry many times over the years and it’s just almost impossible to bring firework manufacturing to the United States.”

According to Zoldan, manufacturing is difficult because it’s done by hand and — so far —cannot be manufactured employing sophisticated technology, which, he said, leaves the Chinese as the best at it.

“it’s just a unique set of circumstances,” he said.

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