The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, July 01, 1999, Summer Edition, Page 6, Image 6

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    Despite laws,
fireworks sales
are booming
FIREWORKS from page 1
of satisfaction, illustrated beautifully
by two geeky teenagers who come out
with a large bag of assorted goodies.
They look like they both just got laid
and jump into their black Chevy Capri
Classic with Nebraska plates and speed
off, eager to tell all their buddies.
When asked about his large
Nebraskan clientele, Flanagan proudly
says that 80-90 percent of his business
comes from either Nebraska or Iowa.
To show his appreciation for this
patronage the giant billboard next to
the giant Uncle Sam says “You wheel,
we deal.”
Because ot the large amount or
fireworks stores in the V* mile radius
around the Rock Port interstate exit
Flanagan says the competition is so
fierce that you can’t buy fireworks any
cheaper anywhere else in America out
side of that comer. Of course there is
more than enough business to go
around and he says it’s more than just
the prices that keep Nebraskans truck
ing down 1-29.
“A lot of it is the road trip part.
People enjoy coming through
Missouri. That’s part of the tradition,”
Flanagan says in a proud trailer park
accent. “It’s die thrill of trying to dodge
the roadblocks.”
Oddly enough, the element of dan
ger does seem to be particularly
appealing to many of the Nebraskan
shoppers. A middle-aged bearded man
with a flannel shirt and a camouflaged
hat jokes with his pale and portly son
about “Starting a family tradition of
buying illegal fireworks.” His son gig
gles as if he has the coolest dad in the
whole wide world. This particular trip
is the duo’s fourth and the dad says die
reason is simple. “Better fireworks.
Sparklers and fountains just really
don’t do it.”
I here is something to be said tor
the drive down. The big sky and hilly
country side of southeast Nebraska and
northwest Missouri is very tranquil and
relaxing. You get to drive through
towns like Unadilla, Neb., where the
chief industry is the Texaco and the pay
phone on the comer. Then after an hour
and a half you drive down probably the
only stretch of road where you can see
a giant gorilla, dinosaur, blimp, dog
and Uncle Sam without either being in
a parade or on bad, bad drugs.
In Rock Port you can’f swing a
dead cat without hitting a fireworks
store and all of them have a cheesy bal
loon. The only billboards that don’t
advertise something that explodes, be
it fireworks or gasoline, is the Rock
Port Inn, which advertises a pool and
The Texaco across from Liberty
Fireworks has an assorted rack of hats
for sale that metaphorically mirror
Libterty’s patrons. There are some
sports hats, some truck hats, some hats
that say “world’s greatest dad,” as if the
real world’s greatest dad would actual
ly wear it, and a hat that says “I pretend
to work and they pretend to pay me.”
The inside of Liberty Fireworks is
packed with almost any kind of explo
sive device a red-blooded American
could want for the Fourth of July, or a
minor military exercise.
“Sombitch’ honey, look at this.”
A middle-aged lady has a little
trouble reading die neon orange sign
near a fireworks display. But she fig
ures it out.
“A 90-shot aerial display,” she says.
Her husband just says, “Shit.”
On the other end two men, who
both arrived in cars with Nebraska
plates, one in the sports car and one in
the El Camino, spend more than $200
on a variety of fireworks. One looks
like he can easily afford it, the other
doesn’t. Either way Flanagan is there to
collect and to be nice he throws in some
free punks.
tie says mat ror me most pan peo
ple, aren’t very concerned about being
caught. In fact, last summer, when the
Nebraska State Patrol and Fire
Marshall were very visible in the media
about cracking down on the transporta
tion of illegal fireworks, Liberty had its
best yean
“When you tell someone they can’t
do something, that just makes them
wanna do it even more,” Flanagan
The Road to Rack Port
Matt Haney/DN
explains. “I mean we didn’t break our
record, we smashed it.”
Despite the macho high school atti
tude many Nebraskans front about
breaking the law, few care to go on
record with a comment and everyone
who passing looks at my notebook to
make sure their license plate number
isn’t written down.
But as another carload of
Nebraskans leave Liberty saying
“We’re gonna rock dude,” Flanagan
can’t help but illustrate his disdain for
the Nebraska laws that make him a
“It’s just bullshit. I don’t know
who’s got a feather up whose ass, but
wiiy are they not out trying to catch real
criminals instead of ordinary guys and
citizens trying to have fiin on the
fourth,” he says, loud enough for the
patrons ofhis store to hear. “If they buy
milk here and transport it over the state
line, that’s no different.”
Of course if it wasn’t for the “bull
shit” laws ofNebraska, Larry Flanagan
wouldn’t be Spartacus, he’d be unem
But don’t worry, he knows it and he
thanks US.