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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Ken Michaels has managed Phantom Fireworks in Caledonia for 12 years.

In Arts & Entertainment

All fireworks are 2-for-1 at Phantom.

In Arts & Entertainment

You must register to buy fireworks and only the registerd person can pay for them.

Social Circle: "Do you buy fireworks for the 4th?"


Welcome to a weekly segment called "Social Circle." It's OnMilwaukee.com's first article that's truly a group effort between readers, social networkers and the OnMilwaukee.com editors.

Every Monday, we will ask a question via Facebook and Twitter and then post the responses from our Facebook "likers" and Twitter followers in the Thursday column. Well-known Milwaukee movers-and-shakers will contribute, too.

Fireworks, of all kinds – including sparklers – are illegal to use, possess or sell in the City of Milwaukee. If caught using fireworks by the police, kids will get fined $84 and adults can get nabbed with a $689 fine.

It is not, however, illegal to buy fireworks in other parts of the state, which is why some people travel beyond Milwaukee to purchase them. Anyone who buys fireworks has to register at the fireworks' store and pay a $4 permit fee.

Ken Michels has been the manager of Phantom Fireworks in Caledonia for 12 years. He says Pahntom does 70 percent of its annual business the week before the 4th of July. The store is open year-round, but with a smaller staff.

"We get a lot of business for New Year's Eve, Diwali, Mexican Independence Day and Memorial Day weekend, too," says Michels.

Michels has three safety tips for anyone using fireworks. No one under 18 should use them; people shouldn't drink alcohol while using fireworks and they should always read the instructions on the packages before lighting them off.

Despite the strict laws, some folks still buy and light fireworks for the 4th. Hence, this week's Social Circle question revolves around that very topic: "Do you buy and use fireworks on the 4th of July?"

Here's what people said, and feel free to chime in via the Talkback feature. Be safe, Milwaukee, and have a blast this weekend.

John Adler: "I will usually buy fireworks based on the originality/oddity of how they're named. Also, for some reason I'll usually buy them when in northern Wisconsin, always at truck stops or gas stations for fear that the ones outside under a tent will more easily combust on their own. Some of the names of ones I've seen/bought in the past: Sir Lancelot, Balls of Steel, Hip Hop Hurray, Pulling Trix."

Emily Ann: "Nah. I'm not one to spend money and risk getting the cops called on me just to see something I can see in a park for free. But I love me some Mentos-and-Diet-Coke explosions. LOL."

Russ Fascia: "Sometimes. Whistling moon travelers and a self contained finale."

Kami Fusco: "Nope, they scare the crap out of my neurotic German Shepherd. Gotta give her Valium to keep her from freaking out at everyone else's fireworks."

Jennifer Goyette: "I can't stand them. Loved them when I was young but Milwaukee goes overboard and now I just see it as pollution and noise. I am a party pooper for sure."

Jim Houck: "The spinning, jumpy kind."

Dusty Karen Kaye: "Nope, I hate them."

Tammy Kolbe: "Heck, yeah. On our third batch of the summer already."

Brian Kramp: Thanks to American Fireworks I'm lighting off some Xcalibur and one really Bad Mother! They're in my truck right now. Wanna blow some sh*t up?"

Geoff Marsh:"Not much, but I still like snakes."

Nancy Nelson: "Absolutely. I think it's ridiculous that sparklers are illegal. I buy them and enjoy with my kids all the time. Not just the 4th. On camping trips, birthday parties, New Years Eve. They are pretty and fun."

Avery Olsen: "Do those little things that pop when you throw them on the ground count? If so, then YES!"

Melissa Paap-Young: "Well, I grew up blowing off all sorts of great fireworks. Sparklers were for toddlers. Bottle rockets, rocket exploders and we even bought our own cannons and cannon balls like you see at the parks. But alas, I did not grow up here in Milwaukee."

Kenyatta Yamel: "I never buy fireworks."

Gayle Zimmers: "Snakes, sparkler and poppers. Absolutely. The other stuff scares me. Someone always loses a finger."


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