If your idea of a perfect Fourth of July involves shooting off a bunch of explosives at a backyard barbecue, you're in luck. Stores and seasonal tents dot main thoroughfares and shopping centers across the Tampa Bay area.
For the big-bang pyrotechnics, shop in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Just keep in mind you'll probably have to sign a form stating you're using the fireworks for business reasons, such as scaring away birds from crops or fish farms.
Rules are tougher in Pinellas, which requires customers to get a permit for anything that flies a great distance or explodes. Stands — and even some grocery stores — sell mostly sparklers, smoke balls and other "safe and sane'' fireworks but not the reloadable mortar kits and repeater cakes that pyromaniacs love.
If you haven't bought your stash yet, there's still time. Most stores and tents are open late. Here are a few.
This longtime Tampa-based firework sales business owns many of the tents around town, including about 50 across Hillsborough. Its store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is open year-round. Look for the large Statue of Liberty standing out front. Galaxy sells Gorilla brand "feel the power'' fireworks, from simple sparklers to monster 500-gram cakes. 204 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa; (813) 234-2264; galaxyfireworks.com.
You know this place must be serious about fireworks based on its Web site name alone, fireworks.com. This nationwide chain has one store in the Tampa Bay area, and it's open year-round. Phantom has online coupons and an annual contest for the best fireworks photo. It sells Phantom brand products, including Wolf Pack firecrackers, said to be the loudest available. 1031 W Fowler Ave., Tampa; (813) 910-0495; fireworks.com.
This Alabama-based company has 5,000 tents and stands across the country, including many in Tampa Bay. Look for them at various Wal-Marts and shopping plazas. Products range from "safe and sane'' to maximum charge fireworks, depending on the location. Check out TNT's Web site for a list of tents, to enter its annual photo contest or register for the TNT Club for free gifts and special offers. tntfireworks.com
Pyro Junkie Fireworks
This Tampa-based direct importer of fireworks has a main showroom on N Nebraska Avenue, one tent in Port Richey and another in New Port Richey. Its recently renovated showroom is open seasonally from Dec. 1 to Jan. 5 and from June 1 to July 10. Don't expect BOGO deals like at most other stores. Pyro Junkie says its prices are already the lowest in town. 11207 N Nebraska Ave. in Tampa, 6520 Ridge Road in Port Richey and 8206 US Highway 19 in New Port Richey; (813) 615-BOOM (2666); pyrojunkie.com.
You might miss this place if you're not paying attention. Tucked on the end of a strip center with a nail store and travel agency, this year-round store carries World Class brand fireworks. It has a large selection of novelty items, from One Bad Mother 500-gram cakes to Frosty Mug of Beer fountains. 7901 N Armenia Ave.;(813) 935-8810; bellsfireworks.com.