Fireworks supplies could be a little tight this 4th of July.

A couple of weeks ago, I was initially surprised when the media began reporting about an expected shortage of pool chlorine this summer. Then, I remembered that thousands of Americans bought swimming pools last spring when we realized we wouldn't be leaving the house all summer (including this author). COVID wreaked havoc around the world, supply chains and labor forces were interrupted and now there isn't enough chlorine to meet demand. You can expect the same issue when it comes to fireworks this year.

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Much like the virus... fireworks come from China.

In fact, nearly 70% of the fireworks sent to the United States come from a single pyrotechnic monopoly in China, according to this interesting article in the Washington Post. And just like microchips, chlorine, toilet paper and other consumer goods, the supply of fireworks has been impacted by COVID.

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What about the big fireworks shows?

We talked to Todd Reichenbach of PYRO F/X By Reichenbach, Inc., a Billings company that is responsible for dozens of professional fireworks displays in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Reichenbach said that one issue is the backlog of container ships, stuck waiting to unload in Long Beach, CA.

With many fireworks events canceled last year, Reichenbach said their inventory should be satisfactory for the 4th of July displays this year.

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Here's what the local fireworks stands are saying.

  • DJY Fireworks (72nd & Laurel Airport Rd). Cheryl & Ted Hill have operated their family-owned stand in Laurel for years, and Cheryl said while prices have gone up, they were fortunate to be able to receive the same sized shipment as last year.
  • Patriot Discount Fireworks (multiple locations). Owner Matt Weber's family has been in the seasonal fireworks business for decades. Noting record sales in 2020, they're expecting high demand again this year as Americans yearn to blow off steam and blow stuff up. His advice? Don't wait until the last minute to buy your pyro.
  • Baachachik Fireworks (Hardin). One of the few year-round fireworks retailers in the state, the folks at Baachachik told us the largest importers in the US are expecting shortages of 30-50% this year. They added that their inventory looks "pretty good" at this point.

Most fireworks stands in Montana are allowed to operate from June 24 - July 5 and December 29 - 31. I'm trying not to stress about shortages this summer. One way or another, I'm hoping there will be enough aluminum beer cans, hot dogs and fireworks to have a killer 4th of July party.

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