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John Hageman, Forum News Service, Published December 25 2013

New North Dakota law allows residents to buy fireworks over holidays

GRAND FORKS – A new state law will make it easier for North Dakotans wishing to ring in the New Year with a bang.

The law that took effect earlier this year adds another time frame that state residents can legally purchase fireworks in North Dakota. Previously, they could only purchase them from June 27 through July 5, but now can also do so from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

“North Dakota law is kind of unique in that allows retailers to be open year-round, but only to sell to our residents for that week preceding the Independence Day holiday,” said State Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo, who introduced the fireworks legislation earlier this year. He said the law allows for fireworks sale by export year-round.

“So basically, if you’re from anywhere else … you can come into North Dakota year-round and purchase fireworks but our residents are limited to that one week,” Thoreson said. “I think we should at least give our citizens an additional period.”

Thoreson said he’s not sure why the law limits access to fireworks more for residents than visitors.

“Apparently, and I was not aware, there are quite a few people who like to do it in the holiday season,” he said.

Fireworks take on a different look in the winter than they do during the summer, said Generous Jerry’s general manager Jane Breyer, with the colors illuminating the white snow.

“They’re absolutely gorgeous,” she said.

But Breyer said she doesn’t expect a huge windfall from the extending shopping period.

Generous Jerry’s will open their Highway 2 location, about a mile west of the Grand Forks International Airport, during the new holiday sales season. They’ll be open from noon until 8 p.m. those days, she said.

“I do expect some sales, but do I expect huge volumes? No,” she said.

Still, it will mean another opportunity for state residents to legally obtain fireworks locally. During the winter, outstate customers had to call ahead to stop by the store, and even then, they had to purchase a minimum amount to make the trouble of opening the store worth it for Breyer.

Thoreson said safety concerns were the main argument against his bill, but he noted that local governments still govern use of fireworks.

“It hopefully will allow the retailers a little extra income during the holiday season,” Thoreson said. “And also allow the citizens, if they wish to do so, to purchase them legally.”