Local News

St. Clair fireworks ready to light up the night skies July 4

Photo courtesy of Jim Bloch. The St. Clair fireworks show seen from the river last year.

By Jim Bloch

More than 1,100 fireworks shells will be launched from a barge in the St. Clair River off Palmer Park on the night of the Thursday, July 4 in a spectacular display of shapes, colors and sound.

St. Clair’s annual July 4 fireworks show is one of the most popular events of the year in the city and the only one in the area held on Independence Day. It draws thousands of visitors to downtown St. Clair. Hundreds of boats anchor in the St. Clair River off the city’s boardwalk to watch the show.

Beginning around 10 p.m., the American Fireworks Company, of Hudson, Ohio plans to launch 14 100-shot barrages, 744 three-inch assorted aerial shells, 222 four-inch aerial shells, 102 five-inch aerial shells and 66 six-inch aerial shells over the river from a rented barge. The barge will be anchored in the river off the mid-point in the park.

The St. Clair City Council voted unanimously at its regular meeting June 17 to approve a special events permit for the show, which included the American Fireworks Company’s $10 million in liability insurance coverage through the Everest Indemnity Insurance Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
“Michigan Public Act 256 of 2011 requires the approval of from the local legislative body for public displays of fireworks,” said City Clerk Annette Sturdy, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on YouTube. “Even though the city of St. Clair is the applicant, it’s still required to approve the permit. All the necessary documents are complete and approval is recommended.”

The fireworks company was founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant Jimmy “The Bomb” Sorgi and has remained in the Sorgi family for seven generations. The firm’s original building on a half acre has grown to 60 buildings on 70 acres.

“Yet the special formulas, handmade craftsmanship, and unique touch for each show are still hallmarks of the company,” the firm said on its website.

The city council also extended vendor hours on July 4 from 9 p.m. “until the end of the fireworks display or 11 p.m., whichever is earlier, to allow additional sales during this special event.”

The display will cost $30,000, up $5,000 from last year. The city typically donates $10,000 to the event and the fireworks committee raises the rest of the money.

The display

As in years past, the display will follow a four act structure: The opening barrage, the body of the show, the pre-finale and the grand finale.

The first act features 450 special cake barrages, 72 three-inch shells, 12-four inch shells, six five-inch shells, all in red, white and blue, and 24 three-inch titanium salutes with tales. The company will launch rapid fire cakes intermixed with aerial shells to create an intense layering effect.

The second act of the show will feature more than 400 aerial display shells in an assortment of colors, shapes and special effects.

The pre-finale builds the intensity of the display as it heads toward the final act. It will last almost three minutes and end with a barrage of titanium salutes and create the impression that the show is over. Instead, the company will launch the grand finale, a thundering barrage that will fill the sky with an array of colors and eye-popping titanium salutes.

The rain date is Tuesday, July 5.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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