Business is literally booming for Pyro Spectaculars, one of the largest fireworks companies in the United States.
Located in Rialto, Calif., the fireworks company has been busy for months preparing for fourth of July shows across the country, notably New York’s famous Macy’s fourth of July Spectacular, as well as the Rose Bowl’s 4th of July presentation in Pasadena.
James Souza, president of Pyro Spectaculars, said the company has planned over 400 Independence Day shows across the country. Locally, the company will display its fireworks in Redlands, Fairplex, Home Depot Center, Long Beach, Rose Bowl and the Hollywood Bowl. The company also used to be responsible for the show at CSUN.
“We do it all,” Souza said. “We start purchasing the fireworks abroad after the holiday in order to prepare for next year. A lot goes into each show and it takes almost the whole year to be ready.”
Souza said it takes the company at least six months to order the fireworks and have them imported from China and Europe, partly because it takes long for the fireworks to be manufactured.
Although the company is relatively small, employing a staff of about 50 full-time employees, Souza said the company hires thousands of technicians during the summer holiday as temporary employees.
Eric Elias manages the crew at the Hollywood Bowl, a staff of about 20 people responsible for setting up the launching docks and a computer control system that triggers the launch of each firework. Elias said great precaution goes into the preparation of each show to prevent accidents. He said the crew works as a team to set up the pyrotechnics while regarding safety as the most important consideration.
According to Souza, the crew in Hollywood has a unique task that distinguishes them from other crews.
“We have to be careful with the Hollywood Bowl in particular because of the geographic characteristics,” Souza said. “The area has a small fall-out zone because of the trees that surround the theater.”
Souza said the show at the Hollywood Bowl is also unique because the fireworks coordinate with live music. The technicians have to be precise in programming each launch to create a synchronized rhythm with each blast.
The company provides about 1,000 pounds of fireworks for the show at the Hollywood Bowl. Fireworks are delivered in three truckloads, along with 500 lines of computer code? – an intelligent data system that serves as the brain for the patriotic event.
While the quantity may seem massive, it is miniscule compared to the amount of equipment needed for the Macy’s show in New York.
Pyro Spectaculars hired a crew of 50 people to set up the display in New York and sent seven semi-trucks from Los Angeles to the Big Apple, transporting 27,000 pounds of explosives for the festivities.
Shows like the one at the Rose Bowl, which the company has been in charge of for 80 years, costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. The Macy’s show in New York, however, costs approximately $1 million to produce.
While the company has been in business for over 90 years, this year the company has invested in a few changes.
Souza is especially excited about the new fireworks that have never been used by the company.
“We have new pastel-colored fireworks that we have never used before,” Souza said. “Lemon, light blue and pink will add to the mix of fireworks for most of the shows we are putting on.”
As millions of Americans watch the sky for thousands of Fourth of July celebrations, the company encourages everyone to be cautious with fireworks and to let them be handled by skilled professionals.
Alex Finn, firefighter for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has assisted in the supervision of many Fourth of July shows. Finn said he has seen many people mishandle fireworks, resulting in serious injuries.
“It’s inevitable,” said Finn. “Thousands of people light fireworks during the holiday despite the fact that it is illegal in California. I’ve seen many people get hurt and many fires started because of the mishandling of fireworks.”
Pyro Spectaculars is a member of the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), a trade coalition founded in 1948 to encourage safety in the use and design of fireworks as well as promote regulation of the fireworks industry.
In 2005, Souza served as the president of APA and emphasized the importance of safety when dealing with explosives.
Each technician is certified by the state of California and is trained by the company. Souza urges audiences to leave the fireworks to the professionals and enjoy the shows from a spectator’s position.
“Fireworks are a great way to celebrate the country’s independence,” Souza said. “It’s even better when nobody gets hurt.”