For Miami-Dade residents, fireworks may be illegal, but they are easy to get. At Phantom Fireworks in Key Largo, the week leading up to the Fourth of July is the busiest time of the year.
The pyrotechnics outlet draws customers not only from the Keys, but also from Miami-Dade County, where many of the store’s explosives cannot be sold legally.
The shop has seen about 1,000 customers per day and has stayed open until one AM for the past week, according to store manager Kary Singh.
State law bans the recreational use of any fireworks that shoot into the air or explode, such as roman candles or bottle rockets. Only handheld or ground-based fireworks, such as sparklers, can be legally fired.
Miami-Dade county law prohibits the sale of any of the illegal fireworks. However, a loophole in the law allows the items to be legally sold in many counties throughout the state, including Monroe, Palm Beach, and Broward.
Because of the local restriction on sales, many Miami-Dade residents cross county lines to purchase explosives for Independence Day.
Most of Phantom’s customers come from Miami-Dade County, according to Singh.
To buy the fireworks, customers must be over 18 and must sign a waiver saying they will use the fireworks only for legal purposes, such as frightening birds away from crops or for detonating them in a show by trained professionals. But the store is not required to enforce the wavier.
Even within Miami-Dade, the regulations prohibiting the use of fireworks are rarely enforced. Officers respond to neighbors’ reports of illegal fireworks, but cannot make an arrest unless they witness an explosion themselves, Captain Dale Engle of the Davie Police Department told the Sun-Sentinel. By the time officers arrive on the scene, explosions have usually ceased.