Fireworks blooming rosy reds and twinkling blues against stark, jet-black nights burn bright in childhood memories. Under such lights, in the streets of Philadelphia, the United States was born. By the early 1900s, major Italian families who’d studied the art of pyrotechnics had moved into the country’s fireworks corridor, which includes New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In 2016, John Sorgi, co-owner of American Fireworks in Hudson, took over the more than 100-year-old business which was founded by his great-grandfather, Vincenzo Sorgi. From traditional flare starts to electronic, music-synced shows, techniques have changed, but the craft and splendor of a good show continues to captivate audiences. Sorgi shares the joy firework shows can bring.
Historically fireworks are ingrained in America. They actually shot fireworks at the first Independence Day in America. That’s how the tradition started. Independence Days back then were not as large, obviously, but after they did it the first time it just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Pace is very important. It can never really be too fast. If it’s just all bangs all the time and really fast, no one’s going to be like, ‘Man, that was boring.’ You just don’t want those loud, whistling, screaming ones the whole show. It sort of goes like a roller coaster, where you have a couple shots, then you’ll have a bunch all at once.
Our scripters, they’re really experienced. They know what these things do. It’s gotten pretty advanced — computer choreographed programs where you literally just push one button and the whole show goes.
Once you understand the love of it, it’s a tradition that, once people start doing it, they love it their whole entire life.
— as told to Becky Boban