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East County Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2021 1 year ago

Lakewood Ranch residents plan Fourth filled with fireworks, fun

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However, an industry shortage could lower the boom in East County.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Greenbrook's Mark Thacker and his sons, 13-year-old Brahm and 11-year-old Cannon, didn’t do anything for the Fourth of July last year.

Normally, the holiday is all about fireworks, traveling and boat races for the Thacker family, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most of those events in 2020.

This year, the Thackers are taking advantage of the opportunity to do things they couldn’t during the pandemic, such as traveling out of state and setting off fireworks themselves.

Greenbrook residents Brahm Thacker, 13, Mark Thacker and Cannon Thacker, 11, are pictured with 3-year-old Griffin, a Catahoula leopard dog. They're excited to hang out with friends for the Fourth, which they couldn't last year.

They aren’t the only East County residents excited to get back to the usual July 4 festivities. Other Lakewood Ranch residents are making party plans and figuring out where to watch fireworks. But if you’re planning to buy your own fireworks like the Thackers, be warned. There could be a shortage.

Sky King Fireworks Managing Partner Dustin Luer said his industry, like many others, has dealt with some supply issues because of the pandemic. Luer said the fireworks shortage started because there wasn’t enough labor in American ports to unload containers and products.

Luer said ships often have to sit in ports, waiting to be unloaded. This meant they had to wait longer to return to China — where many fireworks are produced, including Sky King’s fireworks — to pick up more products. When the fireworks couldn’t be loaded and Chinese warehouses filled up, it meant they had to stop producing fireworks until boats could arrive to take some off their hands.

As a result, Luer said to expect fewer fireworks sales this year because they usually get their products from wholesalers, who have fewer fireworks to dole out. On June 7, Luer said he wasn’t sure his own supply would be enough to last through the holiday. However, as of June 25, he said he is confident he will have enough.

Luer's shop is in Sarasota. Fireworks sales are prohibited in Manatee County except to those licensed to have them.

Despite the ordinance, Manatee County residents know the use fireworks at a home setting is common July 4. The home shows could be a little dimmer this year due to the shortage.

Mallory Park residents Caden Stuyverson, 6, and Sean Stuyverson are setting off their own fireworks as part of a neighborhood Fourth party this year.

“The advice that we're trying to portray is to shop early,” Luer said. “If people are coming for a specific item they've bought year over year, that particular item this year might not be in stock. There might be a comparable item, but a lot of people want the same thing that they've had before. It’s something they remember.”

Sean Stuyverson said he is among those East County residents who will launch fireworks this year. The Mallory Park resident and his son, 6-year-old Caden Stuyverson, are excited about the fireworks they’ll light with their neighbors. Stuyverson said the entire summer should be fun post-pandemic.

“I almost feel like we have too much going on,” Sean Stuyverson said. “It’s been a great summer so far.”

Lori and Ron Lezarescu will be spending their first Fourth of July in the area since moving to Indigo from Belleville, Wisconsin. They plan to spend the holiday with their son, Chais Lezarescu, and daughter-in-law, Lauren Lezarescu, who live in Savanna. The younger Lezarescus have planned to take them to see Sarasota’s Bayfront Fireworks.

Indigo residents Ron and Lori Lezarescu, pictured with 4-year-old goldendoodle, Gracie, are excited to spend the Fourth in the area for the first time after moving from Wisconsin.

Lori and Ron Lezarescu said they’re excited to see how the holiday differs in Florida, where they have found a strong feeling of community. They couldn’t remember the last time they saw fireworks on Independence Day because their hometown in Wisconsin would set off fireworks for the annual community picnic in August instead.

They spent most of their Independence Days quietly at the Smokey Hollow Campground. Though they enjoyed those quiet trips, they said they wanted a more traditional and festive holiday this year.

“I’m ready for some excitement,” Lori Lezarescu said.

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Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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