STROUDSBURG, Pa. (CBSNewYork) — As New York City sees a dramatic spike in illegal fireworks, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the formation of a new task force that will cross state lines to track them down.
Sales are legal in Pennsylvania, so on Tuesday CBS2 sent reporter Lisa Rozner to scope it out.
Driver’s licenses were scanned, and consent forms were signed, all of it done to signal that out-of-state buyers won’t break the law.
“We came here today to buy the fireworks for the Fourth of July,” said Shay Atkinson of Crown Heights.
After waiting in a long line at Phantom Fireworks right off Route 80 in Stroudsburg, Atkinson was set to head back to Brooklyn.
Her tab? Around $1,000.
“We wan’t to do something special for the kids,” Atkinson said. “We’ve all been in the house for like three or four months, so let’s have some fun now.”
But unless you have a permit, all fireworks are illegal to possess, sell or transport across state lines, especially into New York City, which has even stricter laws than other parts of the state and New Jersey.
“I didn’t know they were technically not allowed, but, no, I’m not concerned because it’ll be in my backyard,” said Jose Cruz of Ridgewood, Queens.
Some of the ones with ground effects are allowed in New Jersey.
As Rozner saw, there weren’t a lot of the large fireworks left. Some go about 50 feet, others 200 feet, and the 500-gram repeaters were completely sold out.
“They go up, 20-30 shots. They have a nice little show in itself,” Phantom Fireworks assistant manager Ryan Nazario said.
Nazario said sales have been unprecedented, up more than 50% compared to his last six seasons. Instead of one truck delivery a week, he needs four to fill demand.
“Forget the Jones Beach fireworks. The local stuff is incredible,” said Greg Nelson of Merrick on Long Island.
With many official shows canceled, buying is a trend nationwide.
“Pardon the pun, but sales are skyrocketing. They are far better than what anyone anticipated,” said Julie Heckman of the American Pyrotechnics Association.
The American Pyrotechnics Association said stores do cooperate with law enforcement.
Rozner did not see police patrolling the area off Route 80, where there’s several fireworks stores.
The governors of New York and New Jersey did not return CBS2’s requests for comment, but it looks after a quick hour-and-a-half trip like summer is starting off with a bang for many in our area.