Fireworks part of tradition

 

Carolyn McClellan and her granddaughter, Allie McClellan, work at the family’s fireworks stand at Franklin Shopping Center. | Nathan Strickland/FTC

 

Running a fireworks stand two times during the course of the year may not seem fun to some people, but to Carolyn McClellan it has become one of her family traditions.

McClellan has been in the firework business for 28 years, but she has been in the same location at Franklin County Shopping Centre with her family running the stand for 25 years.

“It’s been a family tradition to run this place during the Fourth of July and around New Year’s,” she said. “We have had the entire family to help out pretty much. My grandchild Allie runs the register on the slower days and she makes the third generation to play part in this stand. Hopefully my great-grandchildren will take an interest in it when they get older.”

McClellan’s sister, Lynn Shook, said working at the stand has had a huge impact on her life.

“I met my husband Robert working here,” Shook said. “One day he was in here and we got to talking the next thing you know we ended up getting married the next year on July 5.”

McClellan said she has been a part of the ‘Orbit Fireworks’ chain for a long time and has lasted through two owners and a name change.

McClellan said the chain of stands began in Sulligent and has migrated to cities all over the state.

Even though the building has the name Orbit pasted on it, McClellan said it is now known as ‘Sparkle fireworks.”

Sparkle Fireworks has stands all over Franklin County featuring stands in places such as Red Bay, Phil Campbell and one in Russellville, which is operated by McClellan and her family.

Shook said the turn of the economy has hindered business.

 “The economy has really been hard on us for the past two years, but we still have to do it,” she said.

McClellan said the stand has its ups and downs, but she can’t help but want to continue opening up a stand year after year.

“I use to be able to make enough here to last me until I got to the next holiday but the economy has really taken its toll on us. I worked at Pilgrim’s Pride for 18 years and was able to keep this stand going on the side with the help of family members,” she said.

“Now people who recognize me in the community call me the ‘Firework Lady.’ I got gunpowder in my veins I guess because I just enjoy doing this job during those holiday seasons that call for the fireworks and I plan to continue to do it until I can’t anymore and then pass it on to the next generation.”

McClellan’s stand use to be located on the corner right beside the Franklin County Shopping Center sign, but since the new Community Spirit Bank was built; she has been opening up behind the bank.

“I believe the bank being built on the corner lot has hurt our business a lot and cut us out a little bit because of the location,” she said.

“We use to thrive when we was set up there on the corner lot. People who are just traveling through use to whip in and go, now that we are pushed behind the bank we mostly just get local business from those who have always come and know where we are.”

McClellan said that is just how things go and as the years go by you sort of just learn to go with what you have and roll with the punches.

“Through the years we have learned to change with the times,” she said. “We’ve got a new debit machine so now we are able to take that sort of payment, which helps out tremendously.”

As the weekend ends and celebrations come to a close, McClellan said the owner will come by and store the building behind the shopping center, but once Christmas hits she will be at it again to celebrate another year in the fireworks business.

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