How to launch a hotshot Fourth of July show at home

The Fresno BeeJuly 2, 2014 

With the Fourth of July falling on the start of a three-day holiday weekend this year, one local fireworks distributor is hoping more people choose to celebrate Independence Day at home.

If that's what you're doing, then Louis Linney, vice president of Fresno's TNT Fireworks, has some advice on how to make the best show.

"Start with something small, but then build in some high and low points until you get to the end," Linney says during a hectic day at the company warehouse. Local non-profit groups couldn't start selling until Saturday and as the days leading up to the Fourth grew near, activity at the company skyrocketed.

Linney — who's been around fireworks since his father started a business in 1959 — explains that putting together a perfect show may take some trial and error. Fireworks that are legal for home use are limited to no more than 500 grams of powder. Whether they make a quick and big flash or go on for a long time is determined by the way they are manufactured.

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Linney says fireworks that continue to shower sparks for a long time don't always make the best display.

"I always tell people to think of a road flare. How long will you stand and stare at it?"

And today's fireworks go beyond silver, gold or pale red sparks. Now, it's the rainbow and even some visual effects. One popular firework sends off a shower of sparks that appear to act like fish in mid-air.

Consumers have a growing option of more spectacular and safer fireworks. The government and independent organizations such as the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory constantly test fireworks and will recall any that are performing incorrectly.

"We work hard to make sure everything is safe and sane. We know that we are only one major fire from being out of business," Linney says.

And it's big business. Research America reports $990 million was spent on consumer and professional fireworks in 2013. That includes fireworks sold at roadside stands with prices ranging from a few dollars to hundreds.

Linney says his company took a big hit when the economy bottomed out in 2007-2008. A consumer who normally spent $100 on fireworks cut back to $50. Those who in previous years would spend $50 didn't buy any.

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Sales bounced back in 2012, but because temperatures in the Fresno area during the 2013 Fourth of July week stayed above 100 degrees, there was less interest in outside activities such as fireworks. Linney says he hopes that sales will go up this year because the Fourth falls on a Friday — more people not pressed to go to work the next day might result in more people buying fireworks.

Once you have decided that you want to put on a show at home, you'll want to know how to get the biggest bang for your bucks.

You can find all kinds of package deals at the stands around town. Linney suggests that if you only have $20 to spend with TNT, start with a package that includes Morning Glorys, Piccolo Petes and Ground Bloom Flowers. That will leave you enough money left for a large fountain firework for a finale. Kick the budget up to $100 and Linney suggests a package — such as Perfect Show — that includes 14 individual fireworks, five boxes of smaller fireworks and a bundle of another.

TNT's largest package sells for $500.

If you have been invited to a cookout and asked to bring only one firework, Linney suggests one of the large fountain fireworks such as the Opening Show ($59.99).

Linney says, in the end, how the fireworks display is put together is a matter of taste. If you want to make your show last as long as possible, then the fireworks should be lit one after another. Lighting multiple fireworks at the same time allows the consumer to create a larger effect.

It's your show.

Fourth of July events

Independence Day Celebration, 10 a.m. July 3, rides, game booths and food, fireworks at dusk, Staley Stadium, 3125 Wright St., Selma, 891-2235, $5 adults, $3 ages 6-12, free 6 and younger; $2 parking.

Festival of the American Show, 6 p.m. July 3, Kerman High School Stadium, 205 South 1st St., Kerman, $5, $3 ages 4-10.

Independence Celebration, 6 p.m. July 3, Kingsburg High Football Stadium, 18th Ave. and Sierra St., 897-1111, $5.

July 3rd Blast, 6 p.m. July 3, Miller Brown Park, Magnolia St. and Antelope Ave., Woodlake, 679-4676, free.

Tulare, 6 p.m. July 3, fireworks at dusk, Tulare Fair Grounds, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., 686-4707, $5, free ages 6 and younger.

Star-Spangled Revue, show begins after dark each day from July 3-5, Wild Water Adventures, 11413 E. Shaw Ave., Clovis, $21.99-$29.99, 299-9453.

Exeter Celebrates, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. July 4, pancake breakfast, 2-mile walk, 10k run and horseshoe tournament at Exeter City Park, Chestnut and E streets. Fireworks at dusk at Lions Stadium, free, 592-2919,

Clovis Freedom Fest, gates open 5 p.m. July 4, fireworks at dusk, Buchanan High School, 1560 N. Minnewawa Ave., Clovis, $5,

Fireworks Celebration, 5 p.m. July 4, carnival and fireworks, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, Outdoor Pavilion, 17225 Jersey Ave., Lemoore, 924-7751,, free.

Fowler Fabulous Celebration, 5 p.m. July 4, performance by Randy Deaver and Crossfire, food and fun zone, fireworks at dusk, Fowler High School Stadium, 701 E. Main St., free, 834-3869.

Madera, 5 p.m. July 4, fireworks at dusk, Madera Municipal Golf Course, 23200 Ave. 17, 661-5495, free.

Light Up the Sky, 6 p.m. July 4, performance by Marie Wilson Band, Ducey's on the Lake, 39255 Marina View Dr., Bass Lake, 642-3131, free.

Freedom Celebration, 6 p.m. July 4, Giant Chevrolet-Cadillac Mineral King Bowl, Mineral King Ave. and Giddings St., Visalia, 713-4365, free.

Grizzlies Independence Day Fireworks Extravaganza, July 4, postgame fireworks, Chukchansi Park, 1800 Tulare St., $8-$40, 320-8497,

Reedley Spectacular, 6 p.m. July 4, Reedley Sports Park, 2453 E. Dinuba Ave., $5, $3 children and seniors and military free,

Sanger Independence Day Spectacular, 6:30 p.m. July 4, Sanger High School Athletic Field, 1045 Bethel, 876-6300.

Celebration, July 5, 4:30-6:30 p.m. grilled hot dog dinner and 7 p.m. Mariposa Symphony Orchestra, Mariposa County Park Amphitheater, 4998 County Park Rd., (209) 966-3155, $17 adults, $7 ages 12 and under.

Fireworks Spectacular over Shaver Lake, 7-8 p.m. July 5, boat parade then fireworks, Shaver Lake, free.


The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6355, or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at

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