Though it’s legal to buy fireworks in Ohio, it’s still illegal to set them off

The painted garage door at the front of Grandma’s Fireworks in College Corner. BRENNEN KAUFFMAN/STAFF
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The painted garage door at the front of Grandma’s Fireworks in College Corner. BRENNEN KAUFFMAN/STAFF

Two Indiana women are soaring into their 24th year selling fireworks to both sides of the Indiana-Ohio border.

Sheila Galey and Chris Hannon run Grandma’s Fireworks on the Indiana side of College Corner. The fireworks store opened a few weeks ago and will close on July 7. Although the store still accepts orders by request for the rest of the year, this month is their busiest time.

When they started the business in 1994, it was an offer from their previous boss. The fireworks were stored in Galey’s house and sold without much advertising. From the beginning, though, the two women have enjoyed the work.

“This is the one thing we’ve always done,” said Hannon.

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Fireworks are legal to buy in Ohio, but illegal to possess and set off. Pictured is a previous fireworks display at the Broad Street Blast at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

Fireworks are legal to buy in Ohio, but illegal to possess and set off. Pictured is a previous fireworks display at the Broad Street Blast at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/FILE
Caption
Fireworks are legal to buy in Ohio, but illegal to possess and set off. Pictured is a previous fireworks display at the Broad Street Blast at Smith Park in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

While fireworks are widely permitted in Indiana, the laws in Ohio are much stricter. Fireworks are illegal for Ohio citizens to set off without a high-level permit. The so-called “liar’s law” allows fireworks to be purchased in Ohio only if they are taken out of state within 48 hours. Lawmakers are debating in the Statehouse to make it legal to buy, possess and use certain fireworks.

Though it’s legal to purchase in Ohio, there are few licensed fireworks retailers in the state. This has led to an increase in stores, like Grandma’s Fireworks, which operate just across the border out of state. There are no fireworks stores in Butler County, but there are nine on the Indiana border between Richmond and Lawrenceburg.

Partly because of the laws and their location, the majority of customers Grandma’s Fireworks come from Ohio. Despite the ban, Galey acknowledges that most of their Ohio customers will set them off at their home.

“Cops usually leave them alone unless they’re drunk and disorderly, or if the neighbors complain,” Galey said.

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