The La Center Lions Club was once again able to sell fireworks as people prepared for Fourth of July festivities.
The group wasn’t able to sell the fireworks last year because of a heat wave that took place around the time of Independence Day which led to a ban of fireworks in many areas. The group’s stand is called TNT Fireworks and the sales help fund local projects and initiatives the club has.
“We’ve been doing TNT since I joined the club in 1997,” said Lions Club member Chris Kroll. “One of the first things I did was fireworks sales in where the La Center marketplace is now, that used to be the old hospital, and we sold on the corner. That was before they built the Chevron and all that.”
Member Lance Ebarb showed off a variety of fireworks offered at the stand. Each product featured a color number, a height number, and noise number, with four as the maximum for each category.
According to Ebarb, a fireworks product with a rating of four reaches around 200 feet in height, while fireworks with a rating of one reaches around 10 feet.
Ebarb said an in-demand product this year was “Sir Dumps A Lot.” The firework is crafted in the shape of a dog in a medieval outfit and shoots a small rocket that he said kids tend to enjoy.
“We were hunting all over for (Sir Dumps A Lot) and people would say ‘we’ve been looking for these,’” Jim Irish, who is a Lions Club member and former mayor of La Center, said.
Kroll said mortar shells of all sizes were also a popular product this year. The Lions Club stand opened on June 28 and the products sold well from the get go.
Ebarb noted the money they make through the fireworks stand is funneled back into the community. The proceeds fund activities and services like scholarships for La Center High School students, the city’s Our Days Festival, and sight and hearing tests for the La Center School District. The Lions Club also uses the money to provide food baskets for 15 to 20 families during the months of November and December.
The stand also featured a donation collection bucket for eyeglasses. The club cleans the glasses and then redistributes them to those who need them.
“We have a big mobile thing where we partner with the hospitals or whoever, and these clinics come in one at a time, all day long, and we check their vision,” Ebarb said. “If they need (the eyeglasses), we go through them and give the glasses away, so they don’t have to pay.”
Kroll said the fireworks ban in La Center last year greatly affected their fundraising efforts as a club.
“(The stand) is our major fundraiser,” Kroll said. “We actually set it up and then had to take it all down, so we couldn’t do any sales at all. It affects our ability to do other things.”
While the club hosts other fundraisers, the fireworks sales bring in the most money. Kroll said about 85% of TNT fireworks stands in the area are run by nonprofits who use the sales as a way to raise funds for things in Battle Ground, Ridgefield or Vancouver, among other areas.
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