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Your Independence Day Guide To Buying Fireworks In The D.C. Area

Sparklers are permitted in the District but are expressly banned in many other localities.
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Sparklers are permitted in the District but are expressly banned in many other localities.

The District is preparing for its annual fireworks showing on the National Mall, which draws as many as half a million visitors every year. For those looking to get a little more independent with their Independence Day celebrations, however, there's no substitute for setting off one's own fireworks. Laws in the area do tend to be a little scattered, so mind these restrictions:

    Washington D.C.
  • In the District, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has granted temporary licenses to 47 shops to sell certain kings of pyrotechnics. Located across the city in all but Wards 2 and 6, the shops are permitted to sell only fireworks that don't explode — so no cherry bombs or roman candles. If you're looking for a loud, exciting display then the National Mall is still probably your best bet.
  • Virginia
  • Arlington and Fairfax Counties are sharing the same surprisingly exhaustive 40-page list of permissible fireworks this year, which you can scroll through at your leisure. In general, anything that shoots projectiles, explodes or emits flames or sparks more than 12 feet is banned.
  • Loudoun County has its own exhaustive list of permitted fireworks, which appears to differ from the one in Fairfax and Arlington. The substance, however, is the same. Nothing that explodes or shoots flames or sparks greater than 12 feet.
  • Prince William County allows sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh's serpents, caps, whirligigs and spinning jennies are considered admissible. Anything that explodes, emits flames or sparks more than 12 feet, or that fires projectiles or flames is prohibited.
  • The possession or use of fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, is prohibited in Alexandria.
  • Maryland
  • In Frederick County, anything that explodes, rises into the air, moves across the ground or shoots projectiles is expressly prohibited. The exception is sparklers of various types.
  • Montgomery County is probably near the top of the list in terms of no-fun fireworks laws. All fireworks are banned in the county, including sparklers. The only exceptions are snap-and-pop noise makers, party poppers, and snakes. For the uninitiated, check out the video below to see what you have in store for you with one of the world's least exciting fireworks, which is almost worse than no fireworks at all.
  • Prince George's County has banned any and all fireworks not being conducted by a licensed pytrotechnic professional.
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