Arthur Rozzi Pyrotechnics Display with Grand Rapids Crew Illuminates Amway Family Fireworks [Video]
The 20-minute Amway Family Fireworks display scheduled to illuminate the downtown Grand Rapids skies on Saturday night is an event months in the making designed by a family business with fourth-generation roots in such efforts.
Starting at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday just past dusk, more than 2,000 devices are to be shot off from seven locations on the bridge, said John Rozzi, the Arthur Rozzi Pyrotechnics designer who planned the Amway Family Fireworks show.
"Since the site is close to the public, the largest caliber shell we (will) fire is four inches in diameter," he said.
"There is a lot of planning that goes into a world class fireworks show, particularly one choreographed to music. Since we come from a history of craftsmen, we are particular in the types of fireworks we use in our shows."
'Hours Choreographing the Program'
The 54-year-old Rozzi knows fireworks' visual and pyrotechnical impacts well, having been working in the business for more than three decades. He has been partnering for three years in the family-owned, Maineville, Ohio, firm started five years ago by his brother, Arthur Rozzi, 67.
"We both have been working with fireworks since we were very young," John Rozzi said. "Our grandfather, Arthur Rozzi, was in the fireworks business in Loveland, Ohio; and he learned it from his father, Paul, who was an Italian immigrant and fireworks maker.
"We ran a fireworks factory (Rozzi's Famous Fireworks) in Ohio for many years and recently in 2010 we closed shop. Now, we design and shoot fireworks displays."
The displays again include the Amway Family Fireworks, on which Rozzi is working with a Grand Rapids-based pyrotechnics crew led by Gary Richards.
"In the case of the Grand Rapids show, I ... spent many hours choreographing the program" that includes music, he said. "By show time, countless man-hours have already been involved before the first shot gets fired. This doesn’t even include all of the safety training that all technicians go through."
'Art of Fireworks'
The Grand Rapids-based crew of Richards and his pyrotechnicians are scheduled to arrive on site Saturday morning, Richards said. To set up the show, the individual fireworks get arranged, instructions to the display operators are written and reviewed, equipment lists are generated, the equipment is set up and the individual shells are wired.
"My crew is made up of my sons, son-in-law and a few other pyrotechnic friends I’ve worked with over the years," Richards said. While set up "is on the Fifth, ... much of the work begins weeks and months before the actual day of the show."
Rozzi and Richards first worked together on "some shows we did in Muskegon in 2006," Rozzi said of their Muskegon Summer Celebration partnership.
"We did beautiful shows from barges with water fireworks and 12-inch shells. He’s an excellent technician and has a real appreciation for the art of fireworks."
Richards said: "I appreciate their professionalism and long-standing reputation in the fireworks business. Together, we are able to present a more artistic show by choosing unique shells that are not commonly seen elsewhere."
'It's Kind of Fun Watching It All Go Up'
Rozzi's and Arthur Rozzi Pyrotechnics' expertise, experience and endeavor is wide-ranging.
Tonight, Rozzi is working on a fireworks show in Altoona, Pa., at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.
"They have been a client of ours for over 50 years, going back to the days of our grandfather," he said.
Arthur Rozzi Pyrotechnics was started in 2009, the same year its founder worked on the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular in Boston. The firm does six Fireworks & Fountains shows annually at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., and last year it took part in the Montreal International Fireworks Competition.
Arthur Rozzi also worked on Cincinnati Riverfest's fireworks displays from 1977 to 2008.
On New Year's Eve in December, John Rozzi assisted on an "enormous" fireworks show in Dubai, which currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest such display in the world.
"I worked solely on the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, where we covered the face of the building with pyrotechnics," he said. "That has to be the coolest show I have ever worked on."
But every fireworks show is cool, as far as Rozzi and Richards are concerned.
"As John mentioned, a lot of planning goes into developing the show and working out the details," Richards said. "It’s difficult to determine exactly how many man hours go into the show."
The Grand Rapids event is a show that Richards has now done annually since July 4, 2009. This year, he the display is on the Fifth of July.
"To me, it's worth all of the work of helping design the show," he told WZZM-13 a couple years ago. "It's kind of fun watching it all go up."