Ralston wouldn't be Independence City without fireworks.
The Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce will again offer residents an opportunity to support their community with their fireworks dollars at three stands across the city.
But Chamber President Tara Lea said this year's search for nonprofit organizations to staff the stands as a fundraiser proved to be more difficult than in years past and, as a result, one stand's operation will be split by two organizations, one without a Ralston tie.
Lea said the advent of fireworks sales in Omaha in 2011 has resulted in flagging sales in Ralston and, with Bellino Fireworks Inc. — the supplier for Ralston's three tents — taking a larger percentage of sales to cover its losses, nonprofits are left with a smaller cut of the sales.
“Omaha is not doing good things for Ralston fireworks sales,” Lea said. “The money from Bellino last year declined significantly and we saw a few of our non-profits go another way to raise money.”
Absent from the stands this year will be the Ralston High School Curtain Raisers organization and the RHS cheer and pom teams.
Bellino does not release sales information on its stands, but Lea said the receipts have been dwindling and will likely continue to do so.
“It's just going to get worse and worse as time goes on,” she said. “When you can just go to your neighborhood stand down the street in Omaha, the chance you'll drive to Ralston is less and less likely.”
Fireworks sales are a main economic driver for the non-profits as well as the Chamber, Lea said, and she said she expects to renegotiate a contract with Bellino at the conclusion of this year's fireworks sales period. She also said the Chamber is looking at other opportunities to make money.
“We work our hardest to find the opportunities for new money,” she said. “The bulk of it right now comes from fireworks sales. I'm definitely excited to negotiate at the end of this season.”
The stands are operated by Bellino and benefit three community programs:
Ÿ 8401 Madison St. (84th and Madison streets) benefits RHS boys soccer.
Ÿ 7216 Main St. (72nd and Q streets) benefits Trinity United Method Church and the Junior Eagles Girls Basketball Team.
Ÿ 7310 Harrison St. (73nd and Harrison streets) benefits RHS football.
The stands are open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 25 through July 1. July 2 and 3, stands are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on July 4, stands will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Discharging lawful fireworks is permitted in Ralston only between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., June 25 through July 3, and until 11:59 p.m. July 4, according to city code.
Although the chamber is the only organization sponsoring fireworks stands, the City of Ralston limits applications for fireworks stands to nonprofit groups that use the proceeds of the sales for community betterment purposes.
Neighboring communities will also offer fireworks stands, including 49 across Sarpy County's five cities and 50 in the City of Omaha. State statute prohibits firework sales outside of the limits of a municipal government.
Stands in La Vista near the county line include Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 7101 S. 84th St.; La Vista Community Foundation, 7200 S. 84th St.; La Vista Lancers Soccer Club, 7302 Harrison St.; and La Vista Youth Football and Cheer, 7302 Harrison St.
Omaha locations near Ralston include Cross Training Center's stand at 4911 S. 72nd St. near the Rod Kush property, according to a list of stands provided by the Omaha City Clerk's Office.