CLIVE, Iowa — Most people associate fireworks with the Fourth of July. For others, New Year’s Eve is another holiday filled with festive pyrotechnic displays.
Many people forget the state law allows you to light off fireworks later on Dec. 31 than any other date in the whole calendar year; that is, if your county and city allows.
With sunsets happening before 5 p.m. this time of year, Iowa Fireworks Company owner Jeremiah Terhark says this is one of the best times to light off fireworks.
“It’s perfect weather with the early evenings to get nice bright colors outside,” Terhark said.
The 2017 bill legalizing fireworks in Iowa only allows for two periods each year fireworks can be used. One is right now, from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3, only during the hours of 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. But the bill extends the hours on New Year’s Eve, allowing fireworks to be shot off until 12:30 a.m. the next morning, an hour and a half longer than what is allowed on the Fourth of July.
“We`ve got customers coming from all over the state since this is our only location so it’s fun to catch up with people,” Terhark said. He adds that while their current sales are less than what they saw back six months ago, many are still taking advantage of the opportunity to light up the sky, if their local government is letting them.
“It is confusing with the different city and county rules,” Terhark said.
Most cities, like Des Moines, West Des Moines and Urbandale, banned the use of fireworks within city limits during this winter time period. But a few towns in central Iowa, such as Mitchellville, opted to leave the state bill as is. Mayor Dean Brand says they haven’t had very many issues in doing so.
“We did sort of a survey during the summer about days or hours on the fireworks and from the feedback we got, the council just decided that we’re good. They opted to leave it as it was,” Mayor Brand said.
But others say fireworks in quiet neighborhoods create issues. That’s why Cassandra Johnson, the dog behavior and enrichment coordinator for the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines, says pet owners need to be prepared.
“Have a plan in place. We`re going to be inside [and] only outside to go potty quick. You can [turn the] TV on, music, pheromones,” Johnson said.
“Be a good neighbor,” Terhark adds. “Check in with your neighbors to let them know that they can be expecting you to use the products.”
The other thing commonly associated with New Year’s Eve is alcohol. Terhark is also reminding everyone that fireworks and booze do not mix. In fact, in cities where fireworks are illegal, you can face additional charges if you are found intoxicated while lighting off fireworks.