MASON -- A Fourth of July celebration is hardly complete without fireworks, but since 2010, the city of Mason has had to forego such a celebratory lightshow in the name of budget constraints.
This year, however, the city is bringing it back, featuring one of the longest-running pyrotechnic acts in the Tri-State.
For nearly 90 years, Rozzi Famous Fireworks has delivered the goods – the big booms that best commemorate the red, white and blue. This holiday weekend is no exception. The Loveland-based show producer and retailer will execute dozens of different events across the state from now until Monday. And Rozzi strives to make each one unique.
"We think fireworks are a really important part of a patriotic Fourth of July event," said Jenna Hurley, Mason's community events coordinator. "We're excited to bring them back and wanted to highlight Mason's regional significance and success."
The city's "Red Rhythm and Boom" takes place Sunday – Rozzi takes center stage after headlining act Andy Grammer – but at this juncture, the stage is already set. Most shows have had plans in place since the fall – or earlier – and the pyrotechnics hand-packed and delivered to respective locales. This year, Rozzi will also take on shows in Dayton, Kettering, Lebanon and Columbus, as well as Belterra Casino Resort, Coney Island and Fairfield. Overall, about 100 shows are on the company's schedule for the holiday weekend.
It's hectic, for sure.
"It's just about being organized," said Michael Lutz, company vice president. "Pretty much the last two weeks is loading trucks and sending stuff out."
Each show is custom designed. Most range between 20 and 30 minutes. Coney Island's fireworks show, for example, will run about 20 minutes, while Mason's will be about 25. Lutz said 3,000 to 4,000 fireworks are used in that timeframe. Many of the shows this year – as is becoming standard – are scripted to music. Hurley, for example, said they're doing a mix of patriotic and fun, current tunes.
"We try to keep it fresh and interesting," Lutz said. "Everything we do is tailored to the venue. We try to exceed expectations, which, year after year, is not always an easy thing to do, but we try to give somebody something better than they were expecting."
And then there's the actual execution. Rozzi is largely a family affair – the company is on its fourth generation, no less – and staffing typically remains level. But to manage such a huge weekend influx, the company adds about 300 seasonal summer workers. That includes 50 trained and licensed "shooters," Lutz said, each of whom has a crew of four or five.
Lutz said Rozzi has added some new vendors this year, so show attendees can expect more variety in the displays.
"There's always some new stuff, but we'll see a lot more pattern-type shells and bright, bright colors this year," he said. "I think our products are constantly improving and diversifying."
After the last firework is lit, the smoke fades and the crowds head home, the cycle starts all over again. Lutz said sometimes discussions for next year's show happen that same night. A whole new countdown begins.
"The Fourth of July is a fantastic holiday," Lutz said. "I think it defines us (as a country), and I don’t think anyone else celebrates their independence the way we do. It's nice to be such a big part of it. We've grown up with it, and I know our family and our company really considers it an honor."