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Fabulous Fourth fireworksBecome a fireworks aficionado
Many hobbyists (birdwatchers, wine experts, racing buffs, sports fans) find their activity more interesting because they have an insider's knowledge of its fine details and specialized language.
Golden Willow. Photos courtesy of Joyce Morrison
Designer Joyce Morrison let The Times in on some inside information about the Edgartown show: "I will also have a Pink Peony flight (five shells tied together to explode in sequence) in honor of a friend's daughter's birthday. I always include a flight of purple Chrys [Chrysanthemum] for myself and a yellow and blue sequence of Chry for David [Kelsen, C.R. Pyro president]."
How much do fireworks cost?
The Edgartown Board of Trade (EBT) is organizing the Fourth of July fireworks for the first time this year, taking over from the Edgartown firemen, who ran the show in earlier years. The half-hour display will cost $35,000, plus expenses such as police details, passage on the ferries, and two nights lodging for the fireworks crew.
Tigerpaw, also known as a Dahlia with strobing flowers.
According to Christine Cook, secretary of the EBT and chairperson of the fireworks committee, the board has worked closely with C.R. Pyro to make this the most spectacular display in Edgartown's history, increasing the ante from $25,000 the show cost last year.
Gold to red peony and tail.
A fireworks show is like a symphony
C.R. Pyro's head designer and co-owner, Joyce Morrison, outlined her display for Times readers. Her show is divided into distinct parts, like the movements of a symphony. "We shoot in the traditional Italian style of fireworks, with an opening barrage of many shells followed by a segment known as the Pregebia - this is where we showcase several shells of all sizes that are particularly pretty or interesting. The Pulling shells are next. In this segment you will see a variety of shells in many colors and sizes and sometimes in combinations known as flights. We deliberately keep the pace a bit slower here so people can enjoy each shell. Near the half-way point we like to throw up a Mid Finale or Surprise Finale. There will be a slight pause, and then the pace picks up and the intensity and excitement of the show increases until the custom-designed Finale. At the end of the show our signature, two Palm Tree shells, will end the show."
Red, white, and blue peonies.
About C.R. Pyro
C.R. Pyro of Middleton is a family business that has been handling fireworks for six generations. David Kelsen, the current president, has been in the business for 35 years, and his father-in-law, now retired, has been in the business 55 years. Mr. Kelsen's son and nephew are about ready to get their pyrotechnician's licenses. They will be the seventh generation to join the company.
Star in ring.
How, exactly, do they do it?
C.R. Pyro, the company that will put on the Edgartown display, uses a device called an electric match (e-match) to set off each shell. According to the web site of its manufacturer, Pyromate, an e-match consists of two lead wires connected by a fine bridgewire which is coated with a pyrotechnic composition similar to a match head (the old, non-safety kind). When a given current (usually 1 amp, or greater) is applied across the leads, the bridgewire heats up and the e-match head is ignited, thereby igniting the device. C.R. Pyro uses a 12- or 24-volt power source, something like a car battery, to activate the e-matches.
Some fireworks companies use a computer to fire all the shells according to a pre-programmed sequence. However, David Kelsen, president of C.R. Pyro, told The Times that his company prefers to fire the shells and flights manually, allowing the operator to adjust the show to variations in shell manufacture and different weather conditions or crowd reactions. "It might be good," he told us, "to let an especially nice firework hang in the air a few extra seconds before covering it up with the next shell in the script."