A stand selling fireworks outside the Iowa City Walmart shown on Friday, June 30. — photo by Zak Neumann
There’s good news for Cedar Rapids residents who enjoy explosions. There will be an extra hour during which they can set off fireworks this weekend. Iowa City residents will have to venture a little farther to get their thrills.
City regulations allow the recreational exploding of consumer fireworks within Cedar Rapids city limits from June 1 to July 8, between the hours of 9 a.m and 10 p.m. But on the Fourth of July, and the weekend preceding and the weekend following the holiday, the pyrotechnically-inclined are allowed to set off firecrackers, roman candles and other legal fireworks until 11 p.m.
Prior to this year, the sale and use of most commercial fireworks had been banned in Iowa since 1938. The law enacting a statewide ban was passed largely in response to a 1931 fire in that destroyed most of downtown Spencer, Iowa. Ironically, the Spencer fire is believed to have been started by a sparkler, one of the few types of fireworks legally available in the state before the law was changed in May.
That change allows the sale of fireworks designed for use by the general public from June 1 to July 8, and December 10 to January 3. Municipalities may still restrict or ban the use of those fireworks. On May 26, the Cedar Rapids City Council voted 5-2 to allow the use of fireworks during specified hours from the beginning of June until July 8.
Fireworks are for sale in Iowa City, because under state law the city can’t ban their sale, but the use of fireworks within city limits is still banned. Fines for violating that ban range from $250 to $650.