The July Fourth holiday is still two weeks away. But to many across Rochester Hills, the nightly snaps, cracks and pops of fireworks are a signal that this year, the occasion may be more patriotic than in the past.
Under the new state Fireworks Safety Act, devices like bottle rockets, roman candles and firecrackers can now be sold and used in Michigan. In Rochester Hills, four sales permits have been issued to businesses wanting to sell fireworks in parking lot tents around town.
And although Rochester Hills passed an ordinance that restricts the legal use of the fireworks to July 3-5, already the sounds of the season have begun.
On the Rochester Patch Facebook page this week, residents sounded off about the seemingly constant sounds and sights of fireworks in residential neighborhoods.
"I love fireworks, the organized ones for the holiday," posted Cathy Hazen. "I just see no purpose in the random one firework in the middle of the night, every night for weeks."
When we asked whether people were tired of all the backyard fireworks, 63 people hit "like."
Fireworks for sale
Now that consumers can buy airborne fireworks without leaving Michigan, more than 200 retail sales permits have been issued to temporary sites and stores around Metro Detroit, MLive Media Group reports. Macomb tops the list with 86 sellers, followed by Oakland (61), Wayne (70) and Livingston (38).
Some have colorful names – such as Thunderking in Rochester Hills, Red Dragon in Shelby Township and TNT Fireworks in Royal Oak. Others are generic tents, sprouting like carnivals as a sign of the season.
The following list shows locations in Rochester Hills that are approved by the state Bureau of Fire Services to sell fireworks this year from an existing business or temporary site. (In Rochester, there are no business parking lots that are the right size to allow for a fireworks sales tent under the law, according to Fire Chief John Cieslik.)
Rochester Hills sites are:
- Phantom of Michigan, 150 W. Tienken. Applicant: Raechelle Speaker.
- USA Fireworks, Crooks Road and M-59. Applicant: Don Mock.
- Thunderking Fireworks, 2627 – 2951 S. Rochester Rd. Applicant: Virgil Johnson.
- Unnamed tent, 1132 S. Rochester Rd. Applicant: William Munaco.
A searchable list of all 613 businesses statewide is at this Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs site.
When it's legal
Legislators passed the Fireworks Safety Act, which Gov. Rick Snyder signed last Dec. 13, to generate sales tax revenue and registration fees. Sellers pay $1,000 annually for a permanent site or $600 for a tent or other seasonal, outdoor location.
Cities and townships can’t block sales, and have limited power to restrict where and when individuals can light mini-explosives that whine, bang and boom. The new law bars municipalities from regulating fireworks use on federal holidays – such as July 4 – or the day right before and after.
In Rochester Hills, fireworks can only legally be used on those three days — meaning all of the late-night sounds we are hearing around town are illegal.
In Rochester, councilmembers will consider a similar ordinance Monday night.
Some residents consider the fireworks a right of passage for the season.
"I see it as everyone is just excited over the fact that they are legal now and just as Christmas has become a monthlong holiday, I don't see why this can't be either," posted Karyn Stanley on the Rochester Patch Facebook page.
"I don't mind it AT ALL!" posted Carla Marten. "It's festive and reminds me of thunder."
Speaking of fireworks
The Festival of the Hills, the city of Rochester Hills' annual July Fourth celebration, is planned for June 27. Festivities start at 6 p.m. at Borden Park; the fireworks show will happen shortly after 10 p.m.
And although the city of Rochester does not have an organized fireworks show, the Rochester City Council recently approved a request from a couple celebrating their wedding at the Royal Park Hotel to have fireworks during the celebration. That will happen Saturday night — just so you know.
Keep it safe: Rochester Hills Fire Chief Ron Crowell talks fireworks safety here.