Thousands of bright, loud fireworks snapped over the heads of Rim Country and Valley residents Sunday.
The crackle from green, red, gold and blue fireworks sent oohs and aahs throughout the crowd, which packed into Green Valley Park, occupying every square inch of cool grass.
The first fireworks shot into the clear, dark sky sent a loud pop throughout the park, instantly quieting the crowd and band, which had celebrated the nation’s independence throughout the day with good food, games and merriment.
For more than 30 minutes, all those in the packed park sat in awe, basking in the incandescent show. At some points, the show literally rained down, with scraps of fireworks casings landing unexpectedly on heads and laps of those sitting around the lake.
Fireworks Productions of Arizona crewmember Dale Borden said the experience of lighting off fireworks is like nothing else.
“When you’re there and have a flare in your hand and pull the fuse cover off, light it, turn around and hear a WHOO – that is a thrill,” he said.
The seven-person crew from Fireworks Productions of Arizona arrived at Green Valley Park Sunday afternoon with a moving truck filled with roughly $15,000 worth of fireworks.
Crew chief Bryan Borden (who still has all 10 ten toes and fingers) said blowing things up has always been a passion of his.
“I am a pyro at heart,” he said.
Bryan even got his wife Tina involved in the business as well as his father Dale and brother Nick.
“At first I just let him do it,” Tina said. “Then I realized this is so awesome.”
Every year, Bryan and his crew undergo extensive training in fireworks handling at Firebird Raceway in the Valley. These hours of training assure that no mishaps take place when the big event arrives. The most common operational hazard is blisters and minor burns, crew member Rachel Vaughn said, pointing to several small holes in her pants.
When they do their job right, it stops someone from using fireworks, Dale said.
“Fireworks help us celebrate, and if we do it well, it makes it less likely someone will go out and get illegal fireworks and do something on their own,” he said. “What we do is dangerous.”
For Sunday’s show, dozens of racks were lined up along the west side of the lake. Each fiberglass tube was loaded with a three- or four-inch ball. Depending on how they are manufactured, each shell has a specific effect.
From large, multicolored sprays that shoot 200 to 300 feet into the sky, to small, glittery streams that reach 100 feet off the ground. The more variety, the better, Dale said.
And with more than 5,700 fireworks shot off at Sunday’s show, there was something for everyone, Bryan said.