Return to Elkhorn Profitable For Legion Fireworks Stand

For the past 20 years, Claude Herrin has worked the fireworks stand for the Elkhorn American Legion .

It's a big money-maker for the non-profit group.

"It's the only one we've got and we support the legion baseball program," Herrin said.

Fireworks sales also funds scholarships. The American Legion historically provided four $1,000 scholarships annually for high school kids.

"We had our biggest years at some times right here in this same identical spot," Herrin said.

But that ended with Omaha's annexation of Elkhorn because selling fireworks in Omaha wasn't legal. The American Legion moved it's stand three miles west to Waterloo for the next few years but sales suffered and so did the programs they fund.

"We went in the red three years in a row," Herrin said. "We didn't even give legion baseball money any of those years because we just didn't have it."

April Scott of the Order of Eastern Star, a service organization aimed at helping kids, also saw dwindling finances.

"Especially our band scholarships and academic scholarships we've had to cut back and we want to get them going again because since there's two Elkhorn High Schools," she said. "We want to add to those so we can give a scholarship to each school."

Seventeen-year-olds Sam Moore and Justin Coco are teammates on Elkhorn's Legion baseball team. They understand how fireworks sales directly benefits them.

"It's really important because it gives us something to do and it keeps us from getting really bored and keeps us active," Moore said.

"There's a lot of stuff that has to be paid for like field maintenance and everything and without these fireworks we wouldn't be able to pay for all that," Coco said.

Todd Beaumont could have bought fireworks anywhere but he chose to spend his money at the Elkhorn Legion's stand.

"I run the Elkhorn location Jensen Tire and Elkhorn is known as a pretty tight knit community and I just thought it was best to give back to the community I'm working in," he said.

Herrin said the return to Elkhorn has already proven profitable.

"We're doing better than we had some other years," he said.

Herrin said one problem he'd like to change in the Omaha city ordinance centers around being able to operate the fireworks stand every year.

Non-profit groups have to be awarded a permit annually by the city.

There's no guarantee a permit will be issued year after year.

Herrin said that could mean tying up money now for a stand next year that may not happen.

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