Xtreme Fireworks and Phantom Fireworks might be in Caledonia’s zip code, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s okay to buy their fireworks and light them off in your backyard.
“The problem is that Caledonia has a zip code west of the interstate, and they’re in it. But they’re technically in the Town of Raymond,” said Caledonia Police Chief E. Toby Schey with a sigh. “That’s been an issue ever since they opened.”
Of course, the larger issue is that the “permits” issued by Xtreme Fireworks (2720 West 5 Mile Rd.) and Phantom (2832 Hwy. G) apply to the Town of Raymond only. They certainly don’t permit you to buy a Mega box and fill the night sky above Caledonia.
“Those permits are almost a scam to make money,” Schey said. “When they first opened especially, officers would go to a party and people would say, ‘But I have this permit.’ People are misled.”
In Caledonia, the only kind of fireworks that are legally allowed are things like sparklers and black snakes. Basically, if it flies into the air or explodes, it’s against the law, unless you have a professional pyrotechnic display permit.
Schey said that officers tend to issue warnings to first-time offenders, but citations are not unheard of -- and they’re not cheap: $366. So far, the Caledonia Police Department has not received a lot of complaints, but he expects that number to ramp up as the weekends get warmer.
Caledonia resident Tracy Bernhardt said she moved to Caledonia five years ago, and she was shocked by the prevalence of illegal fireworks, which are annoying to her and terrifying to her dogs.
“The past two years we've planned vacations with the dogs, specifically to get away from Caledonia the week of the Fourth of July, because it builds to a non-stop, all day, every day barrage of firecrackers and fireworks,” she said. “I find it terribly frustrating to have two dogs pacing, panting, panicking, and cowering in the basement at least once a week, if not more, throughout the summer.”
Schey said his officers will do what they can to respond to illegal fireworks complaints -- and there’s always the looming threat of that $366 citation. He’s hoping that the fact that the Fourth of July falls on a Monday will mean people might have to go to work the next day and thus will tone it down.
“However, there’s just no way you can cite everybody on the Fourth of July,” he said.
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