Fourth of July Fireworks: A Guide for Professional Shows

I love the Fourth of July.  It has to be one of the best holidays.  The flags.  The parades.  The patriotic music.  And best of all, the fireworks. 

We used to spend the holiday out on the lake.  The day would usually include a trip to the putt-putt course, the barbecue hobo meal (recipe forthcoming, I promise), and a boat trip to watch the fireworks on the lake.  

Dad would drive the boat up under the show and throw out the small anchor that was never big enough to actually hold the boat in one place so he would spend most of his time readjusting the boat to keep us from drifting into another boat.  Then he would turn on the John Philips Sousa CD and we would watch the show. 

My Dad always knew a little bit about everything and fireworks were no exception.  He would name the different fireworks as they were fired and I realized that it is time to share the knowledge. 

Starting with my favorite, we have:

1.  The Willow

I love these fireworks.  I always thought the flame trail was going to reach all the way to the ground and light a boat on fire.  I can see how firemen are concerned about the potential for a fire for the shows over land

2.  The Horsetail

The same effect as the Willow but the flames sprout out all in one direction. 

3.  The Spider

These were always ridiculous to watch.  The flames shoot out in all directions and then quickly change directions like a spaz.  It’s a little like watching some of the drivers here in downtown. 

4.  The Palm

I loved watching the thick tail as the shell shot up.  And then when the shell exploded, it would briefly illuminate the barge below. I don’t know why I was so interested in the barge beneath.  I should have enjoyed the mythical idea of the shells coming straight out of the water and not be bothered by the technical reality.   

5.  The Chrysanthemum

The most typical type of firework and the backbone of every show. 

6.  The Diadem

It’s very similar to the chrysanthemum but the middle star is static and hangs in place while the outer rings shoot outwards. 

7.  The Crossette

Each main shell contains a smaller shell then each smaller shell includes and even smaller shell.  So you have the original explosion and then each tentacle has its own explosion.  Repeat. 

8.  The Kamuro

Dad used to call these heads.  Because they are round and look like a person’s head.  Amusingly, he isn’t far off.  Kamuro is a japanese word that means, “Boy’s Haircut.” 

9.  The Ring

I’m sure we will be seeing lots more of the ring-shaped variety at the summer olympics later this month. 

10.  The Grand Finale

Also known as the part of the show that wakes up every baby and dog within a five-mile radius.  But it’s the best part.  The crews set off everything that is left all at one time.  So many things are happening that it is hard to know where to look first. 

Alas, most fireworks shows in the midwest have been canceled due to drought.  And the show at Lake Wawasee is to far away for a one-day trip. 

But if you find yourself in the vicinity of a show that is actually happening, feel free to use your new knowledge to show off to all of your friends.

Happy Fourth of July!

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