DENHAM SPRINGS -- Things had slowed down for Kyle Lewis by the time Wednesday rolled around.
It was July 5, which signaled the end of another successful fireworks-selling season for the Albany native, and pretty soon, the big yellow tent and all that was left underneath would be hauled away until New Year’s.
Empty boxes and pallets were scattered under the tent, which was located just off Exit 10 in Denham Springs, in plain sight of drivers going down Interstate 12.
A mother and her two sons pulled up around 1 p.m. hoping to find a good deal, but other than that, Lewis was mostly there by himself — much different than the mad rush of the previous week and a half.
But Lewis, who was the attendant for the Black Cats Fireworks tent in Denham Springs, has gotten pretty used to the ebb and flow of fireworks season by now.
With his father and brother also manning Black Cats tents in Covington and Hammond, you could even say it runs in the family.
“I’ve been doing this with my dad since I was 2 or 3 years old, before Bass Pro or any of this was out here,” said Lewis, a third-year student at Southeastern Louisiana University. “So I guess that makes me a second generation fireworks guy.”
For as long as he can remember, Lewis’ Independence Day and New Year’s Day celebrations have centered around fireworks, which he and his family have sold twice a year for more than 17 years — or 34 seasons.
His father Kenny Lewis, currently a teacher and coach at Albany Middle School, introduced him to it when he was a toddler and when the location off of Exit 10 was “nothing but pine trees and grass.”
But Kyle got more enthusiastic about the side business the older he got, especially once college and tuition fees rolled around.
Now, the quick cash grab really comes in handy.
“It’s right before every semester starts, so it’s nice getting that check before I go back,” said Kyle, who also works at Carter Plantation while he attends SLU.
He should get a pretty nice check soon.
Kyle called the recent Fourth of July fireworks season “a fantastic season, more than it has been in years past,” though he didn’t quite have the final figures as of Wednesday, July 5.
Those figures will be tallied after Thursday, when Black Cats Fireworks will take down the big yellow tent and haul everything to its Ponchatoula warehouse before rolling it all out again for New Year’s.
However, there won’t be many fireworks to bring back.
Including Kyle, a crew of five worked the stand since Monday, June 26, when Black Cats set up the tent, ran the electrical wiring, built the fence and dropped off the tables, registers and pallets.
Kyle was responsible for organizing everything and “making it look like a store,” which took some time, considering that the eight pallets were loaded with fireworks stacked higher than his 6-foot-5-inch frame.
But Kyle soon had it all set up, and for 10 days, Fourth of July enthusiasts flocked to the tent to choose from the variety of fireworks that were heaped on tables and pallets underneath.
“I probably needed an extra person,” Kyle said with a laugh. “But I guess I saved some extra money.”
Kyle probably would’ve preferred another person to stay at night, as well.
At least one person had to be on site at all times to protect against theft, and as attendant, that role fell solely on Kyle’s shoulders.
His girlfriend and a few friends would come watch things while he showered down the road at Planet Fitness, where he’s a member, but then he’d come straight back to his small camper to stay for the night.
The camper didn’t have his bed, his fridge, his shower or any other of the amenities from his Albany home, but it did have the most important tool to combat the hot summer days.
“The air conditioner is the most important part,” Kyle said. “At least I could sleep in the cool.”
It should be cooler when Kyle gears up for the next fireworks season in late December, but given south Louisiana weather, there’s also a chance he’ll still need the camper’s air conditioner to be up and running once again.
But no matter the temperature, Kyle is certain he’ll be back.
“Unless something crazy happens, I should be back here for years to come,” he said.