LIVINGSTON — Over the last month, we’ve made a few trips to East Park Street. From capturing damage caused by the Yellowstone River to checking in with the hospital, animal shelter, as well as a small firework stand and daycare. Today, that firework stand—which lost more than $25,000 of product—sees one of the busiest seasons ever.
“I’ve been coming to this place, basically my entire life, so to see it all good and coming back is awesome!” One customer said. “It’s a little way to support a local family,” Another customer said.
Chris and Julie Benden have been operating the firework stand for about nine years, and say this is the second busiest season they’ve experienced. Chris notes that opening and operating the stand would not have been possible if the community of Livingston did not help.
“We needed to gather 10 volunteers a day, or 30 volunteers for a couple of hours they showed up, we needed that because there’s no way we would have never opened without the help of generous people,” Chris Benden said.
Just weeks ago the stand was in a pool of water from the Yellowstone. Chris made his way into the stand amidst freezing water, to see what could be salvaged. About 25% of their inventory was lost, but they were able to work with a producer to replace the majority of what they lost.
“There’s nothing you can do, nothing—you’re so hopeless that’s all there is to it,” Benden said.
Despite the hopeless feeling of seeing ruined fireworks, damaged carpet, and a thick coat of mud throughout the property, it was the spirit of the community that the Bendens will remember.
“The spirit is here, it’s hidden when times are normal, but when we have tragic times, it comes out,” Benden said, “That’s what it was, I think it just shows in a town, as small as ours, that we still are a small town and people care about each other,”