Fireworks Chatter by Grucci

July 5, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Posted 07.05.01
For its Independence Day edition, the Public Lives column of The New York Times chatted up Phil Grucci, Fireworks by Grucci's vice president for operations and “a fifth-generation firecracker maestro from America's premier pyrotechnic family.” The fireworks masters behind the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, the Grucci family has a history in the business that goes back to Phil's great-great-grandfather Angelo Lanzetti in 1850 in Bari, Italy. “I remember the days when my grandfather lit the fireworks with a burlap bag; he would twirl it around to light the fuses,” Grucci told the Times. “Now, with a laptop computer, we're firing 10,000 shells with one touch of a button.”

This year the company put on about 80 fireworks displays around the country on the Fourth, including the famous Macy's display (which also has fireworks from Pyro Spectaculars). Grucci, 38, designs most of the programs himself, and he spent two years developing a computer chip that works as a firing device inside a firecracker and made its debut this year. The chip cuts the variation in a firecracker's timing from a half-second to a thousandth of a second, helping to time the fireworks to music.

An interesting fireworks fact from the piece: “Like spaghetti, fireworks may have been invented by the Chinese, but were vastly improved upon by Italians.” Grucci explains, “The Chinese had black powder...but it was the Italians that by adding certain metals or salts created the blues, the greens, the flutter, the twinkle.”

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