Pyro Shows Inc. will be running the fireworks show on the National Mall for the Fourth of July as it has many times over the past 20 years. Pyro's president and CEO explains how the company pulls off the extravaganza involving 3,000 rockets.
How does this show compare with others?
It's one of the biggest shows in the country, and I personally think it's the most prestigious show in the country, not because of us, but because of where we are.
The Fourth of July must be very busy for you all. How many other shows will you put on that day?
About 200. It's not a fun day.
Is there anything different we can expect this year?
Every year, representatives of our company go to Europe and Asia to look at fireworks that are being created by the better firework factories from around the world. And we like to think we always come back with a few prize eggs to display at the Washington Mall.
How long is the show?
About 17 minutes. They're all big shells. Most firework shows have dozens of 6-inch shells that are about the size of cantaloupes. But at the Washington D.C. show, those are the small ones. The mission statement given to the fireworks companies by the Parks Service is that all the fireworks have to reach the elevation of the Washington Monument or higher. And since fireworks go up 100 feet per inch and the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall, then the smallest firework we can use is 6 inches in diameter. That is the largest shell that is shot in most shows.
There aren't individual people lighting them, right?
It's designed by a computer and is shot electrically. There are five individuals in the bunker that all manage their own electric firing unit. So you're really watching five shows operating simultaneously, the idea being that if there's an electrical failure, there's a computer glitch, some kind of issue, the fact that it's five shows being shot at once, four of those shows will continue uninterrupted.