After Will Allen and his friends watch the fireworks over Charleston Harbor on Thursday, they plan to go back to his Mount Pleasant home and launch a show of their own.
Legal or not?
Fireworks are legal in the following municipalities:
Fireworks are illegal in the following areas:
Charleston (including much of West Ashley; Johns, James, and Daniel islands)
Isle of Palms
“We do it every year,” said Allen, 23. “The whole day is a party: swimming, cookout, fireworks and then it ends with setting off our own fireworks.”
Allen and a handful of friends each kick in $20 to $25 for the pyrotechnics.
“When I was younger, you could buy a ton of them for just a few bucks,” he said. “Now they're more expensive. It doesn't take long for $100 to go up in smoke.”
Firecrackers sold to the public can't have more than 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic composition per firecracker, according to the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Even so, some, with names like “Woah Daddy” and “Bone Breaker,” are multiple tube devices that set off a bunch of fireworks in quick succession, giving them a high whiz-bang quotient.
“They are much better quality than they used to be,” Allen said. “They are almost like the professional fireworks. They are more colorful and louder.”
It's the “louder” part that bothers Quinn Dupree of North Charleston.
“They are so loud, they scare my pets and kids,” she said. “And they seem to go on all night. It would be one thing if they ended at a decent hour, but they usually last past midnight. Every time I get everybody settled down, then it's 'bang! bang!' again. That's what I don't like.”
Consumer fireworks are illegal in many Lowcountry municipalities, but even areas where they are not banned, police departments often are called out for noise complaints and tend mostly to issue warnings.
“We do get quite a few calls about it on July Fourth,” said Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis. Officers inform offenders that fireworks are not allowed in Charleston's city limits. “If it continues, the fireworks can be confiscated and a citation can be issued,” he said.
Often, by the time officers arrive, the show is already over. Other times, people see the law coming and scatter.
“It's difficult to witness a violation,” said Goose Creek Police Chief Harvey Becker.
Fireworks are legal five days a year in Goose Creek — Fourth of July, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day — and they cannot be sold inside city limits.
“Fireworks don't seem to be a big problem,” he said. “We respond, but unless it's a flagrant violation, and typically it's not, we give them information about the law and a warning and that generally solves the problem.”
The city also tracks calls, and officers issue a violation if they have to go back to a location.
Dupree said she has threatened to call the police but never has.
“I would (call) if they were shooting fireworks and having a loud party,” she said. “But I figure there's not much the police can or will do if people are just shooting fireworks. I guess it's just more of a nuisance that we have to deal with a few nights every year.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.