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COVID cancellations hit fireworks display companies hard

Pyroshows in Lafollette said says are down 50 to 80 percent

LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. — For fireworks display businesses, the season of boom has turned to bust

Coronavirus cancellations for companies like Pyroshows in Lafollette, Tenn. have seen sales fall 50 to 80 percent. 

"It's no one's fault, it just is what it is," company president Lansden Hill said. "A lot of communities have had to cancel their events, therefore they had to cancel their fireworks."

Hill started the company half a century ago. Since then, it's exploded to be one of the largest in country, hauling in hundreds of thousands of fireworks for shows across the south. 

"The day of the fourth of July is our business," he said. 

Technicians spend months planning the oohs and ahhs and painstakingly packing shells and strobes, but the coronavirus pandemic has ripped out their fuse. 

"Every winter we buy and have delivered millions of dollars of fireworks. The good news is they're not perishable, they'll last another year. The bad news is we borrowed the money to buy them and we're not going to be able to pay the banks back," Hill explained. 

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In full warehouses, there's more pyro product than places to fire it off.  

Aven as some communities expand events where social distancing is not hard or not required; for Hill, it's not enough. 

"For every email I get that says I want to increase the size of my show, there's probably 10 that have to cancel," he said. 

Sporting events make up a big portion of spring and fall sales, the future of those customers is still up in the air.