Hoping to ring in the new year with a pop, crackle and bang?
You're in luck, because celebratory New Year's Eve fireworks sales are returning to the Omaha metro area this weekend.
Employees at fireworks retailers on Friday were busy heaving boxes and stocking shelves in preparation for the three-day sale that starts Sunday and runs through midnight on Dec. 31.
“You'd be surprised the people that come out — the pyros,” said a grinning Eric Clauson, operations manager at Wild Willy's Fireworks in Springfield, where the company this summer built a new 6,000-square-foot heated store along Highway 50.
Most people, however, are still getting used to the relatively new New Year's novelty.
Starting in 2010, the Nebraska Legislature allowed fireworks to be sold and discharged during the New Year's holiday, with local approval from the city.
According to the State Fire Marshal's Office, there are 20 Nebraska fireworks retailers licensed to do business for the New Year's Eve holiday.
That's down from 27 retailers last year, 28 in 2011 and 45 in 2010.
It's also a significantly lower number than the hundreds of vendors set up for business across Nebraska for the Fourth of July.
Still, popular fireworks this time of year are generally larger and louder than the ones blown up in the summer, retailers said.
“These are extremely loud and really light up the sky,” Clauson said as he grabbed a package called High and Mighty Artillery Shells. “It sounds like a bomb goin' off.”
People also are drawn to the kind that allow users to “light one thing at midnight and run back into the house,” he said with a laugh.
Weather plays a major role in how many customers come out, said Vince Bellino of Bellino Fireworks, which sells New Year's fireworks in Papillion.
“If it's sunny,” he said, “we'll do OK.”
While you can't buy New Year's fireworks in Omaha, Wild Willy's and Bellino Fireworks are among the handful of Sarpy County retailers in Gretna, Papillion and Springfield that will be open.
Omahans can discharge fireworks from Dec. 28 through Dec. 30, between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., and as late as 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve into New Year's Day.
Meanwhile, the lone Douglas County fireworks retailer is in Waterloo.
Other southeast Nebraska New Year's fireworks retailers are in Davey, Denton, Raymond and Roca in Lancaster County and Valparaiso in Saunders County.
Those who sell them say the winter season is still worth it.
“People have been calling,” Clauson said, ”and we pack it like we would for the summer.”