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Firework stands ready for NYE

DAILY LEADER / JOSH TILTON / Hood's Fireworks is set up on Highway 84, across from Bozeman and Hood's.

DAILY LEADER / JOSH TILTON / Hood’s Fireworks is set up on Highway 84, across from Bozeman and Hood’s.

Wednesday night, families all across the country will be ringing in the New Year in the best manner they know: with a bang.

It’s precisely this explosive tradition and the potentially sizeable profits that bring out fireworks resellers like Josh Hood every year. Hood, 23, of Bozeman and Hood’s Discount Fireworks, has been selling pyrotechnics for the last three years with his two brothers.

“It’s a lot more work than people think,” Hood explained. “Since you can’t just leave these fireworks here, there has to be somebody out here 24/7.”

The tents themselves are susceptible to high winds and freezing temperatures at night, so making sure the merchandise stays secure can be a challenge.

“Just last week our tent actually blew down, and we lost around $5,000-$10,000 dollars worth of firecrackers,” Hood said.

Hood’s is one of four temporarily set up tents along Highway 84 that sells the explosive merchandise. Fireworks are usually bought in bulk, so competition is fierce along the little strip of highway.

“The average customer spends anywhere from $50-$100,” stated Hood. “The biggest rush comes on New Year’s Eve. We usually get a few group purchases of over $1000 and that’s where a lot of the money comes in.”

The city of Brookhaven doesn’t allow for pyrotechnics to be fired off within city limits. This regulation hasn’t affected sales much, as most people just go further out into the country either way.

Hood and his brothers originally were part of a larger, family-run fireworks stand, who have now set up directly adjacent to Bozeman and Hood’s.

Adam Whittington, 27, was working the checkout line and is one of their familial competitors.

“It raises the competition a bit, but we don’t let it get between us,” he remarked with a grin. “I’m their first cousin by blood.”

Openly displayed were all sorts of fireworks, ranging anywhere from smaller Whistling Chasers to Mega Thor Missiles and Saturn Missile Batteries, names as easily appropriate for warheads and military-grade weaponry. The largest individual rocket was stacked nearest to the register: the Big Island, a massive 12 shot with a casing bigger than the barrel of a cannon. Topping off the entire inventory was a collection of impressive explosives, not least of all seven 500-gram rockets, the largest amount you can legally put in a firework.

While the display is mainly geared towards a Mississippian market, the stand gets a number of customers from out-of-state, mainly Louisiana. Bottle-rockets are prohibited in some parts of the state, so many come looking to buy the elusive merchandise.

Despite the many restrictions and obstacles, many still plan on welcoming 2015 with as explosive a “hello” as ever.