MANCHESTER — For more than an hour Saturday morning, people streamed into the Pyro City retail store to buy fireworks called “One Bad Stepmother,” “Thug Hunter” and the “Right to Bear Arms.”

Employees of the store, the smallest of the seven Pyro City stores in the state, said the last few days and this weekend will be their busiest time of the year.

Jason Putnam, of Winthrop, brought his family, including a young son and daughter, to pick up some fireworks for use at home. Putnam said he was looking for things that wouldn’t shoot high in the air because of the proximity of other houses.

“Our neighbors are pretty close, so I want something that’s low to the ground like sparklers because I can control them,” Putnam said. “There’s a lot here, but I am mainly looking for something to shoot sparks into the air for the kids to watch.”

Putnam said his family will watch fireworks Monday in Winthrop over Maranacook Lake. Putnam, a former teacher, said using fireworks with his kids is a teachable moment.

“(I’m able) to teach them that though fireworks are often advertised as toys, they aren’t toys,” he said. “They are something you have to respect, like a gun or anything else. It’s super important.”

The mix of men, women and children, families and friends, the old and the young coming through the store Saturday morning seemed to include everyone from experienced pyrotechnics users to those just buying something because they liked the name.

Brittany Ladner, 26, a nurse from Farmingdale, and her friend, Amanda Smith, 28, of Dresden, bought about $100 worth of fireworks, including the “Saturday Night Special,” which shoots flaming balls. They were at an event they called the fourth annual beer Olympics with more than 50 friends in Dresden Saturday afternoon.

“We have sober judges, and they are the ones using the fireworks,” Ladner said. “So far nobody has lost a finger and nobody has called the police.”

The women said their drinking games were a safe activity, but state officials continually warn that alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. Last July 4, a 22-year-old Calais man died when he lit a mortar on top of his head during a party. He and friends had been drinking prior to the incident.

Ian Marson, warehouse manager for Pyro City, said the store will not sell fireworks to anybody who appears intoxicated. Other than that, however, purchasing fireworks requires a person be at least 21 and have a valid photo ID.

“There’s always a safety video playing, and we’ll often instruct people how to safely use whatever they’re buying, and everybody gets a safety brochure,” Marson said. “It is probably our biggest concern, and we certainly go all out to make sure people are safe.”

Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association in Maryland, said by email that the main goal of her organization is to promote the safe usage of fireworks.

“Fireworks and extreme stunts do not mix,” Heckman said in a news release. “Fireworks, when used appropriately and in accordance with legal safety standards, are a safe, enjoyable and family-friendly entertainment experience.”

For emergency personnel, however, fireworks enhance the possibility of serious injury or fire. Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas said fireworks usage should be paired with the fire danger conditions as posted by the Maine Forest Service each day. The service said the risk was low for Saturday.

Thomas’ office completed inspections of official town fireworks shows this week, and office staff will be on call to handle any incidents this weekend. Several municipalities in the state have had special restrictions on fireworks usage since their use became legal in 2012. Augusta, Wayne and Waterville ban the sale and use of fireworks entirely.

The restrictions, which vary from town to town, include time and day of use, proximity of the fireworks to certain buildings and the amount of noise generated by the pyrotechnics.

According to data from Maine Revenue Services, fireworks sales tax revenue and taxable sales increased by about 1.06 percent from 2014 to last year. Through May 2016, $657,876 worth of fireworks and related items were sold. Most sales occur in June and July, with those months accounting for 67.39 percent of all sales last year.

Julie Heckman said by email that her organization expects sales will increase by about $50 million from 2015. Last year, Heckman said, American consumers spent about $755 million on fireworks for the Fourth of July, and the organization said revenues could exceed $800 million for the 2016 fireworks season.

Marson said everything has been flying off the shelves at the store in Manchester, including the custom-made products by Jinsheng Fireworks, a Chinese company that makes the fireworks used by Central Maine Pyrotechnics, Pyro City’s commercial arm, in their shows around the state. The two most popular are the Young Superman and Grand Patriot fireworks, and the store had their entire custom line marked down 50 percent.

“Buying them directly from China means we can sell them cheaper to our customers,” Marson said. “It’s pretty cool to have a personal product line, and we want to keep our customers coming back.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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