Boom City features nearly 160 fireworks vendors
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:01 AM
TULALIP You wont need to ask if its the Fourth of July around here.
One of the benefits or drawbacks of the Marysville area, depending on your opinions concerning loud noises, is this acre of gravel behind the casino.
This year 158 stands are selling fireworks on the reservation, and only Tribal members can sell the firecrackers, bottle rockets and other items not available elsewhere. Aficionados for years have traveled many miles to fireworks stands on Indian reservations and the Tulalips have gotten more business since moving to the larger location thats closer to the freeway.
For fans its a blessing, but for many folks in the greater Marysville area the complex of colorful stands is a toothache that brings danger to their city.
Linda Williams has been selling fireworks at her stand for 27 years, give or take a few when she was traveling the world. She claims her wares are safe for anyone using common sense and said she urges her customers to only let adults light them. Her stand opened on June 15 with most of the others and will be open until July 4. For Williams Boom City is more than just a cash cow.
This is the only time I get to see some of my friends and relatives; its like a family reunion, Williams said from her bright yellow stand. And I love fireworks. I get to light them off every evening.
Her stand used to be called Daryl and Lindas, but a divorce lawyer and a can of paint made it a sole proprietorship. Now she caters to well-heeled customers who buy top-shelf products, especially the packaged shows called cakes that users light once. The cakes have many individual fireworks timed to blow from a central fuse. One match starts the show and makes for a much safer display, according to Williams. The care and knowledge she gives puts her head and shoulders over other vendors who might just slap up a shack and make a quick couple grand. Williams wouldnt discuss how much money she makes from her stand but ticked off a list of countries around the world she has visited from the proceeds.
Some shacks do quite well, they make it quite a business she said. I cater more to the people who like to put on huge shows. Choreographers come to me.
Mike Dunn owns the Flaming Arrow stand in the heart of Boom City, and he is chairman of the five-member governing committee. He noted that there are more than fireworks at the lot behind the Tulalip Resort Casino. Under the new hotel tower nine concession stands help feed the masses who flock to the boom town, as well as two arts and crafts displays and a bouncy house. Ignition is the prime prohibition, but just north of the lot is a designated area where fireworks can be lit.
That has helped stem injuries and fires caused by errant rockets, Dunn said.
The fire marshal said its not a question of when theres going to be a fire, its where, and we made a liar out of him that year because there wasnt a fire, Dunn said proudly.
The boom town has grown quite a bit from the 11 stands during the first year and has long outgrown the fields next to the Tribal headquarters on Totem Beach Road. Dunn remembered the boom times of 28 years pedaling fireworks and nodded to another stand nearby where two of his daughters have their own operation.
Back when we used to be down by the beach, traffic used to be backed down by the sewer ponds, Dunn said.
Now that there are more fingers in the pie, hes not making as much money, but still having fun. He said Boom City is the largest of its kind.
Were the largest fire works sellers west of the Mississippi, Dunn crowed. We have a lot of people working here who dont have jobs. This will help with food.
Williams said as the operation has grown its also grown up. The class A M-80s and Cherry Bombs are gone and now she only sells the class B and C stuff.
Boom City has grown up over the years, Williams said. Were a lot more sophisticated than we used to be.
She said her average ring up is between $300 and $400, with the largest sale $2,400. There will be several thousand-dollar orders before the weekend is up, and with that comes lots of customer service.
We explain what it is and write out which goes first, Williams said.
Propped against the side of her shack is a big six-foot-tall display labeled U-Da-Man with an Indian chieftain on the cover. It sells for $700 but Williams scrunches up her nose: most of her customers like to choose their own cakes and assemble their shows from there.
I guess they are more hands on, she said. They like to talk about their fireworks more than I do.