It’s easy to appreciate the patriotic nature of fireworks when your view takes in both an inflatable eagle above a fireworks stand and a huge American flag flying across the street at Perkins.
Here’s further evidence that we’re in the midst of an All-American week: Local fireworks stands are operated by cheerleaders, church members and, in one case, a police officer.
For the fourth year in a row, Centura cheerleaders are operating a Ka-Boomer’s stand at 404 S. Webb Road.
The project is “one of our big fundraisers for the cheerleading team, and it goes toward their uniforms and other costs throughout the school year,” said Rozy Dibbern, one of Centura’s cheer coaches. The other one is Monica McDonald.
Do the girls need new uniforms every year?
“We are switching to every other. But the new girls have to buy new uniforms, no matter what,” Dibbern said.
On Monday morning, Dibbern was joined by cheerleaders Ashley Rose, Amber Baldwin and Breanna Fanta, as well as the latter’s mother, Tracy. The entire staff consists of nine cheerleaders and their parents and family members.
Is it tough to get people to show up to work?
“It’s kind of hard during the Fourth of July to get people to come out to work because they want to go on vacations, too.” But working at the stand is a priority for the cheerleaders so they can fundraise, Dibbern said.
Not far away, in the Orscheln parking lot, Kristen Laurent was working at a Bellino Fireworks stand with her daughter, Ava.
The money they earn will go toward tuition at Trinity Lutheran School. Kristen Laurent teaches at the school, where her 7-year-old, Graham, will be a first-grader this fall. Ava, 13, will be a freshman at Northwest. Another woman who works at Trinity Lutheran runs another stand in the Harbor Freight lot.
Just in from Texas is Chris Granlee, who was stationed at the Bellino stand in the Hy-Vee lot. Granlee, 27, is the new youth and college-age pastor at Abundant Life Church.
The big eagle stands guard overhead. “I call him Baldy,” says the friendly Granlee, who started work at the church June 3. Being a Texan, Granlee says he is naturally patriotic.
Later in the day, Granlee will be joined by four to six young members of Abundant Life. There’s also another fireworks stand in the church parking lot.
Proceeds fund the Abundant Life youth and kids program.
Granlee likes “just hanging out” and bonding with the youth group. He also likes getting to know the customers. It’s fine if a customer shares his life story while buying fireworks. When you get to know people well, “real change can happen,” Granlee said.
Even though he works 12 hours a day at the fireworks stand, Granlee is happy. One church member set up a large fan, which makes his work area nice and cool.
In the parking lot of Express Pawn is Red, White and Boom, which is owned by Trent Hill and his family.
This is the first year in the fireworks business for Hill, who is a Grand Island police officer. He’s assisted by his wife, Amy, and their two daughters.
Customers can walk right up to the stand, which Hill built himself. He prefers an old-fashioned stand to a semi-truck or shipping container.
The stand measures eight feet by 16 feet. “It took me six weeks,” says Hill, 45. He ordered all the fireworks himself. His kids helped design the logo.
Helping their dad with the stand, he hopes, will help his daughters appreciate the value of work. It’s also a good way for them to make money. “It’s either this or detasseling,” he said, smiling. The girls are in middle school and high school.
Hill is trying to keep prices low. On Tuesday, first responders and veterans get 20 percent off.
He hopes to close by noon Thursday so he can celebrate the Fourth with his family.
The Platte River Cosmopolitans’ stand is in the parking lot of the Central District Health Department. Funds raised by that nonprofit group will go to fight diabetes.