Booming family business

By David Talley | Published Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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The windows have opened up at fireworks stands around Wise County. This evening begins their period of highest traffic, which will extend until they close the night of July Fourth, after almost everyone has had their fill of explosions.

John Monk, who operates Ron’s Fireworks on U.S. 81/287 north of Decatur, said he and his employees are ready for business to pick up.

Eye on Explosives

EYE ON THE EXPLOSIVES – Isaac Monk mans his stand midday Monday. The largest packages are multi-shot features called “cakes.” Five hundred grams of composition is the legal limit for fireworks available to consumers. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We’ll have about eight or 10 people in here, and none of us are going to be able to take a break,” Monk said. “But we know what to expect. We’ve been doing this for a while.”

Several of Monk’s employees are members of his family. While they sleep at home each night, Monk lives in a nearby camper trailer during fireworks season.

“As long as there’s fireworks in the stand, I’ve got to stay,” Monk said.

His son, Isaac, works at another Ron’s stand down the road, just off of 287 south of Decatur.

“My parents got into it, and I just kind of fell into it as well,” Isaac said.

Growing up in a family of fireworks vendors, Isaac said his Independence Day experience differs from that of most children.

He rarely set off his own fireworks.

“We never had an opportunity. We would always celebrate the Fourth on the fifth,” he said.

Managing a fireworks stand took its toll on his parents.

“Things won’t actually settle down until about the eighth,” Isaac said. “We still have to deal with all of this stuff and put it somewhere. By that time, they would be so exhausted that we just didn’t.”

Availability wasn’t the issue. Motivation was.

“Of course, we could get fireworks,” he said, “but by the time we got around to popping them, it was like ‘What’s the point?'”

Isaac said missing out on these childhood experiences is acceptable, for a price.

“For two weeks of your time, you’re looking at at least two grand,” he said.

Prices have increased since he started selling fireworks seven years ago.

“I remember when a lot of this stuff was less expensive.”

He holds up a brightly colored box.

“It’s the best artillery shell you can get,” he said. “I remember when this was $160. Now it’s $190.”

This time of year, however, tradition dictates and the pocketbook listens, Monk said.

“People are still gonna spend money on fireworks,” Isaac said. “One guy bought more than $600 because he couldn’t pop fireworks in California, and he was glad to be back in Texas.”

Recent wet weather has ensured ideal conditions for fireworks on the Fourth – and once again, the Monk family will likely be too busy to shoot off their own.

John Monk said he hopes that’s true.

“I’ve already had customers come in and say they don’t normally buy, but they are because of the rain,” he said.

Isaac Monk is optimistic.

“This year’s good,” he said. “It’s rained and rained, and there’s no burn ban, so it’ll be good.”

As long as it doesn’t strike on the night of the Fourth, each raindrop is invaluable to the Monk family.

“It’s dollar bill signs,” he said grinning.


The cities of Alvord, Aurora, Bridgeport, Boyd, Chico, Decatur, Newark, Paradise, Rhome and Runaway Bay have ordinances prohibiting fireworks within their city limits.

If celebrating with fireworks is legal in your area, and you decide to use them, please follow these safety tips:

Before you shoot:

  • DO NOT let children use fireworks without adult supervision
  • Only buy from reliable fireworks sellers
  • Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
  • Use fireworks outdoors: find a smooth, flat surface – in a safe area away from dry grass and buildings
  • Refrain from use in high wind conditions
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter”
  • Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers
  • Before you enjoy fireworks, get permission from the property owner
  • Keep something nearby to extinguish a fire – a bucket of water, wet towels, or a garden hose
  • When you’re ready to shoot:

    • Always read and follow label directions, warnings, and instructions
    • Be considerate of your neighbors
    • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks
    • Light only one firework at a time
    • Never relight a “dud” – wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water
    • Never give fireworks to small children, even sparklers can cause serious burns
    • Never throw fireworks at another person, vehicle, or animal
    • Never carry fireworks in your pocket
    • Dispose of spent fireworks properly

    Tips courtesy of the Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office. 940-627-5870.

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