Damon Gleason believes ‘fireworks equal fun”

Damon Gleason is a kid in a candy store as he talks about his business, Boomers Fireworks.

The white tent filled with all the festive, fiery summer visuals, has operated during the week of the Fourth of July since 2004, and it’s an added way for Damon to spend time with his family — his wife Gina, his son Parker and his daughter Pierce.

“Keep in mind: Fireworks equals fun,” Damon said after he described how the business got started with a well-timed vacation.

“We were on a trip in Montana,” Damon said. “We saw this huge fireworks building. I said ‘Honey, we have to pull in and get this. Look at this.’ We met this guy (Matt Belue), bought a bunch of fireworks, got to know him, exchanged phone numbers, which is kind of our character. We’re just happy people.”

The Gleasons spent the Fourth of July that year in Harden, Montana. They left wanting more.

“We literally had the best firework show of our life,” Damon said. “He came and said ‘I have a firework supplier out in Washington. We’d love to come spend the week with you and hang out,’ so we did. He said, ‘You should come with me,’ and so I met his firework supplier. That next year, I found a spot in Aberdeen, started (the business) and now we’ve grown this.”

The early years were a lot more small-scale compared to the way they are now.

“We had this one-year-old baby while we were selling fireworks, because that’s what we did,” Gleason said of his then-infant son Parker.

Boomers Fireworks now runs inside of a 5,400-square-feet tent. For perspective, a large single family home is a little more than 2,000 square feet.

Even though the tent was filled on Tuesday, Boomers received another shipment. Damon, a general manager for Five Star Dealerships, wants to sell all of the merchandise this year and then go enjoy his own Fourth of July celebration with his family and friends at his home in Central Park.

The family was already entertaining people who were perusing the tables full of fireworks, ranging in price from as low as $20. But that’s how it’s always been at Boomers.

“That’s how we grew because we’ve always kept prices and selection for everybody,” Damon said. “If you walk through you’re gonna be like ‘how come everything’s so much more expensive everywhere else?’ We keep (prices) down. That’s our secret sauce. That’s how we’ve built it.”

The Gleasons, 20 years into it, all work it. The baby they had on their arm 20 years ago was working inventory after the latest shipment arrived.

Setting up

Knowing the business is based upon fireworks for the Fourth, the family has to work fast to get everything up and ready for sale.

“The first time we (assembled everything) it took four to five days to get it all dialed in,” Damon said. “Now we can do it in about two-and-a-half. But that’s come with having the right help and knowing the right help. We don’t get a lot of help, we just keep it in our family and among close friends. Probably all the time setting up is finding the best firework that somebody will light off and not go ‘that sucked.’ That’s where we put most of our time — preventing that experience. And definitely, 20 years in the firework business, 20 years in any business is tough. You’ve had to have some highs and lows. And you’ve had (challenges ranging) from cities wanting to ban fireworks, to states wanting to ban fireworks and limit fireworks. So you’re always fighting somebody just to have a business. It should be that hard.”

Safety is the most important thing to Damon.

“We literally want safety with everybody,” Damon said. “So you can walk around here, all of our fireworks have descriptions.”

The descriptions are because Damon wants people to know exactly what they’re buying.

Part of the selection process is the thought the Gleasons put into it. Everything they sell is legal in Aberdeen.

Compiling the merchandise

“You’ve got a 500-gram cake that’s a display cake, you’ve got artillery shells, sparklers, Roman candles, parachutes, Saturn missiles, 200-350-gram cakes, huge fountain selection, tons of novelties … all the fun stuff that’s tough to get,” Damon said. “This stuff’s harder to get every year. And then we’re not letting inflation kill us, so (for) our 20th anniversary, we kept all of our prices the same as last year, and we lowered some. So it of course affects the bottom line, but who cares? I guess you can care, but you can’t always care about the dollar. You just can’t.”

Raised on fireworks

Damon was the boy who was told when fireworks were going off, “No, Damon, stay over here where it’s safe.”

“Those memories, everything fun is a memory, everything sad is a past,” Damon said. “Fun is a memory in my eyes. This is all memory. I remember the days when you lit a firework off and you’re like ‘Oh my god!’ And it went the wrong way. But now they’re much better.”

Damon admitted you’ll still get fireworks that don’t go off right, but he said they’re “way better now.”

“Believe it or not, the higher it goes up, the safer it is,” Damon said. “The stuff that stays low to the ground is not as safe because something could happen within (peoples’ and shorter tree height.)”


“We’ve been through some challenging city firework issues,” Damon said. “Fireworks is a tough (thing.) People who have animals, right? I have animals, I love ‘em. I’m an animal lover. Their dog gets all crazy, right? And then they try to take it all out on the firework. Every animal has sensitive hearing. I think there are ways to protect your animals. For us, we turn loud music on.”

The Gleasons launch their own firework show on July 4. They just turn up the volume on the TV or stereo, and the animals are fine.

“We don’t drug them, we don’t do any of that,” Gleason said about the family pets. “We just put them in the room, put the TV on loud and they’re fine. That really frustrates me when everybody tries to say ‘my dog, my dog.’ It is a tough issue, animals are sensitive.”

In the city of Aberdeen, fireworks can be lit between 9 a.m. and midnight, according to an Aberdeen Fire Department news release.

Favorite thing about working with your family?

“Family,” Gleason said. “You can bicker, but at the end of the day it’s like ‘we’re fine, everything’s good.’ (I love) their ideas. It can’t always be my idea. The different generation of ideas you see, especially today since (the industry’s) so broad, is what’s the best thing? We have an 18-year-old kid, a 21-year-old kid, my wife and myself. That’s the best.”

Damon’s other favorite thing is seeing his kids grow through the business.

“Watching them dealing with people,” Damon said. “Seeing them interact with people and not just on a video game or whatever, that’s been the best thing for these kids. They can interact with anybody. In a small community where we are, we might not have ever met … but I see (people) all the time. And that’s what I love. That’s what’s great about working with the family, they get to see that.”

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com.