Sparks fly as fireworks convention comes to small Indiana city

LA PORTE, In. -- Who doesn't love a good fireworks show? But when it's happening right in your back yard it might be a different story.

Pyrotechnics Guild International, a nonprofit that brings together amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts, is hosting its annual convention at the La Porte fairgrounds until Friday. And of course that includes several fireworks displays throughout the week. Neighbors in the area said they were told to take dishes from their shelves and pictures off the walls because of the large mortars used during the shows.

“It was loud; the windows actually rattled and there were some pretty big booms,” said Jane Bernard, the director of the Laporte County Animal Shelter.

Bernard said she had to move about a dozen dogs to other boarders during the convention this week.

“They get scared,” Bernard said. “They wouldn't have been able to escape but why put them through that?”

PGI holds its annual convention at locations across the U.S., and this is the second time they've been in La Porte. Local officials estimate it will bring between $4 and $4.5 million of economic impact to the area this year.

“The whole plan is we want to have a great atmosphere for PGI, we want them to come back every 3 years,” said Laporte County Fair board member Jeff Mitzner.

PGI gave a donation to the animal shelter to help pay for the relocation of the dogs and agreed to cover any potential damage to nearby homes. The Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office and the A.T.F. gave the company clearance to run the show.

“If you look at the whole big picture, and if it truly brings the amount of money they've estimated it's going to, I guess we can be displaced,” Bernard reflected.

There are three more fireworks shows this week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night at 9pm. PGI agreed to give nearby residents more warning if they hold future shows in the area.