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Tented fireworks sellers keep watch over prized inventory

At 5:30 a.m., Rebecca Criswell heard the tent to her TNT Fireworks stand unzipping.

It was June 26, the stand’s second day open. Criswell, who had already awakened after sleeping in the tent for security, feared that it was a burglar.

“Hi, we’re closed right now, but we open at 9:30,” she called out, hoping her voice would spook the intruder into leaving.

It worked. The next sound Criswell heard was the would-be thief’s panicked retreat as he ran away.

She caught a brief, distant glimpse of the intruder — who she described as a tall, young man with blonde hair — by the time she walked out of the tent.

“It’s my first time selling fireworks, and TNT told us they’re our responsibility, so I guess it’s a good thing we decided to stay overnight,” Criswell said.

Criswell and her mother, Minnie Criswell, both from Huntingdon, run the fireworks stand off North Atherton Street beside the McDonald’s parking lot. They didn’t report the incident to police because nothing was stolen.

“Everyone makes a mistake, so no harm, no foul,” Rebecca Criswell said.

Security is also a concern for other private fireworks sellers.

The TNT Fireworks stand in the Wal-Mart parking lot off Benner Pike is run by Rebersburg resident Russell Norton, who has help from six other people.

Norton, who has sold fireworks for the past four years, said that someone is always in the tent.

“We have someone there overnight to watch everything,” Norton said. “I’m staying tonight, and we switch with each other.”

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