Getting the biggest bang for your buck

Kelsey Henninger

As Independence Day approaches, many people plan to celebrate with fireworks. Whether you will be viewing a professional show or enjoying a backyard extravaganza created by friends, my fireworks experience can help you create a fantastic show of your own.

I worked at the Curtice branch of Phantom Fireworks for two years and knew very little about fireworks when I began. Now I entertain my friends with a great fireworks show, for a reasonable price.

Setting a budget before buying fireworks is a good idea. They are more expensive than you realize. Some customers have spent anywhere from $250 to $1,000. I remember one customer spent $10,000! He purchased the fireworks when Phantom had its “buy one, get one free” special, so he got $20,000 in fireworks for $10,000. He brought his own U-Haul truck and the fireworks filled the entire thing.

If you do not have $10,000 to spend on fireworks, check out a store’s Web site for coupons and search the aisle for deals, so you can get the best show for your money. Some retailers also reward customers by giving away free fireworks. The more you spend, the more you receive free.

There are different types of fireworks and bigger is not always better. A cake or aerial repeater only has to be lit once and will shoot anywhere from nine to 125 shots. A big box may have a lot of breaks, meaning the bursts of colors, but will not go very high because it doesn’t have a lot of power. For a show with big breaks like the professionals, I would suggest between nine and 30 breaks. Cakes or aerial repeaters are best if you, the pyrotechnician, wish to enjoy the show, too, because you can light the fuse and walk away.

Often, the more colorful the package is, the more colorful the display. On many products you can turn the boxes around and see or read what features the fireworks will produce.

If you enjoy lighting a lot of things, you are looking for a mortar kit. These are reloadable tubes with six to 25 shells. I recommend these because they give the best display. After you light them, they explode in an array of color and effects. For example, an effect could be crackle, which means after the blast of color, there will be silver or gold smaller crackling breaks. Some of the shells have one break and others have four, but mortar kits are more work than cakes or aerial repeaters.

Tubes also give an impressive show. They are like a preloaded mortar kit. They are lit just once and will rupture with color and effects. Tubes are great to add to a finale because the breaks are impressive and look professional.

Pairing items together will create a more professional show. For example, light a cake or aerial repeater and after a few shots, light a mortar once or twice. Your audience will “ooh” and “ahh” during your fireworks display.

If you want a little bit of everything and cannot decide for yourself, check out the assortments. They are loaded with many favorites and classics. Most of the assortments have the products listed on the back of the box so you know what you are paying for.

Keep in mind safety. If a firework does not go off, do not re-light it because that can cause serious injury. Also, all fireworks, except for sparklers, snaps and snakes are illegal in Ohio. You can purchase them with an Ohio license, but they must be removed from the state within 48 hours. Otherwise, the police will likely confiscate them, putting an end to your show.

Happy Fourth of July. Enjoy your independence by watching an array of cascading rainbows with tantalizing crackles burst into huge flowers in the sky.

Kelsey Henninger is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her to let her know if the suggestions worked at [email protected].