A storm rolled through Central Virginia early Saturday evening, but it did not rain on the parade nor dampen the spirits at 11th annual Crozet Independence Day festivities.
The celebration was held over the weekend ahead of the Fourth of July, which falls on a Tuesday this year.
After a parade at about 6 p.m., roughly 500 people gathered at Claudius Crozet Park to watch $18,000 worth of fireworks light up overhead.
As the crowd enjoyed food and entertainment prior to the show, some hundred yards away Greg Richardson and two other employees from Pennsylvania-based Pyrotecnico set up boxes of fireworks on a rocky patch of land.
Just how many fireworks?
“Oof,” Richardson said as he tried to estimate the total. “A lot.”
“That’s 660 just in those pods,” Richardson told The Daily Progress, pointing to a dozen boxes of mortars.
Across from the mortars were over 20 cake boxes, an industry term for fireworks that are consolidated into one unit. The mortars, on the other hand, are shot off individually. The different types of fireworks offer different effects and different looks to transfix the crowd.
A transfixed crowd is exactly what organizers wanted, considering the price tag.
“What we think we’re getting is the same show we’ve gotten in past years but for $18,000 instead of $8,000,” President of the Crozet Community Association Tim Tolson told The Daily Progress before the Saturday show.
Firework prices have skyrocketed since the pandemic, he said, mostly due to higher shipping costs and kinks in the supply chain. In fact, last year the association had to call off the firework show because the company they had contracted was unable to get the explosives.
“They’d order them from China, but the fireworks were still circling around San Diego waiting to get in port, so they cancelled because they couldn’t get them in time,” Tolson said.
No such issues this year. Shortly before 9:30 p.m., the Albemarle County fire marshal gave Richardson the all-clear to start the show, and the Crozet sky lit up with blue and red.
The aftermath of a fireworks show can be messy. The fire marshal works with the fireworks company to make sure every explosive has been launched. Sometimes they find a leftover explosive, which must then be ignited, meaning sometimes there’s a bonus firework 15 minutes after the show ends.
Once the company has piled all of its mortars and other equipment back into a truck, Tolson and his team must scour the ground for remnants, often in the form of plastic and cardboard caps. It can be a tedious task, as the caps that come off the fireworks when they leave the mortar box are small enough to be covered by a quarter. Tolson said they’re less than an inch tall and less than a half inch around.
But the effort is worth it, as hundreds of people, children and adults, looked up in awe at the spectacle above.
Even Richardson, hard at work and surrounded by a cacophony of loud booms and bangs, said he gets a kick out of the scene as the fireworks are fired 300 feet into the air.
“It’s enjoyable, because we’re doing it for the community. That’s a big piece for sure,” he said.