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Why Planning Fireworks For Houston’s Independence Day Celebration Takes Months

One of the country's largest land-based fireworks show will cap off the annual July 4th celebration in downtown Houston tomorrow  night. Preparation is months in the making for a pyrotechnic feast for the eyes.


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On a grassy hill located next to the Jamail Skate Park on Sabine, Doug Aller and his staff with Pyrotechnico, a family owned fireworks company based in Pittsburgh, assemble a series of stations padded with sand that contain all kinds of fireworks.

“For the display, we have everywhere from taking candle items that will cover from ground level to 2-3 feet, and then we have up to 5 inch shells here, which will get up into the 5 and 600 foot range. So the crowd will see a show that’s from ground level to 600 feet tall, to you’re gonna be looking at a show almost 500-600 feet wide.”

He says every show is unique, nothing carried over from the year before.

“Everything’s new. There’s nothing that gets reused, all of our shows are unique. So every cue, every device, someone has sat behind a computer listening to music, and specifically placed those devices to break exactly at that time.”

Joe Leggio
Joe Leggio is senior inspector with the Houston Fire Marshall’s office. [Photo taken by: Victor Palomares.]

Even though they’ve been doing Houston for some time, Aller says he and his crew spend time studying every angle and spacing in every device that will create a picture in the darkened sky over downtown Houston.

“It’s all about getting a crowd reaction. It’s that “oohs and ahhs” that you get from the crowd. It’s all those little things we put into the show we hear the crowd react to during the show, and then that applause afterwards.”

Joe Leggio is senior inspector with the Houston Fire Marshall’s office. He says he’s always impressed with how the company takes its time to ensure nothing happens tomorrow night.

“This is a top notch show, it is a spectacular show. They use premium fireworks shells at this show. You don’t find that at all shows, and it is the best show I think, in the area.”

Even though everyone is on the same page in preparation, planning the city’s signature event is still an effort.

“We started preparing two months ago, because we definitely want to be prepared. But the height of the preparation actually the load in, started Sunday.”

Fire trucks will be stationed near the site, and Leggio says they’ve gone through a series of safety checks.

“We guard against tunnel vision. We make sure that we check and double check everything, to ensure that when the show shoots, we’re ready just to watch it shoot, because it’s gonna be a good safe show.”

The fireworks show begins at 9:30 p.m. The event opens at 4 p.m. and is expected to draw upwards of 200,000 people. Admission is $8 dollars, children five and under are free. 

Pyrotechnico box
Photo taken by: Victor Palomares

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