Marana's Star Spangled Spectacular Fourth of July celebration this Sunday, July 4, has one big change — a move of the fireworks launch site.
A year ago, Fireworks Productions of Arizona blasted its show from what was then the undeveloped Crossroads at Silverbell District Park.
This year, the park is finished, and it turns from launch site to viewing area. Fireworks are being shot from the other side of the Santa Cruz River, just north of the Pines Golf Club near I-10.
Viewers at The Pines are "front row" to the show, which begins at 9 p.m., according to Adelina Martin, special event and volunteer coordinator for Marana's Parks and Recreation Department.
"It's a higher elevation," Martin said, and thus the show may be more visible. That's why "we're using some bigger shells this year." People in Continental Ranch and Continental Reserve should have exceptional views, as will people near I-10.
"Last year, the largest shell size they had was a 5-inch, this year, a 6-inch," said Kendon Victor, pyro production manager for Fireworks Productions of Arizona. "The larger the shell size, the more effects or the longer burning. They spread wider in the sky."
The rule of thumb is that for each inch of shell, it rises 100 feet and expands 100 feet. A 3-inch shell, then, rises 300 feet and expands 300 feet. A 6-inch shell reaches 600 feet in the sky, and extends 600 feet.
The show has a total of 516 shells. It should last from 20 to 25 minutes. The grand finale has three-, four- and six-inch shells.
"You're going to see a huge combination," Victor said. "We have a nice variety of different sizes of shells."
Victor himself may see some new things Sunday. "The fireworks industry is a weird one," he said. Pyrotechnicians shoot a new shell to the market, and say "'oh, so that's what that does.' There's not that included video brochure that comes along with this."
The company is doing on the order of 60 fireworks shows Sunday, including performances at "A" Mountain, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and several Tucson resorts.
It has five full-time employees and an assortment of "head pyros," people who work regular day jobs, then come and shoot on the weekends at various events. "It's the Fourth of July where the greatest amount of work's being done," Victor said.
"They do a really great job," Martin said.
Comcast is the sponsor of the fireworks, putting up $10,000 for the show. Red Point Development is donating use of its land for the show.
Some of the fireworks shells, with observations from Kendon Victor of Fireworks Productions of Arizona:
Brocade – "Long-burning stars. When it explodes, it seems to just keep expanding."
Chrysanthemum — Victor's favorite. It bursts in a circle and spreads, with a trail behind.
Crossettes — "They start splitting and expanding out from the center of where the shell exploded."
Dahlia — A circular burst. "It's very bright, and doesn't last very long."
Peony — "Very tight points of light, but nothing spreads out behind it."
Screaming bee – That screeching sound.
Willow — "A lot of fiery colors that drift down, creating a sort of weeping willow effect."
The show starts with "titanium salutes," those "hard boom, no-color shells, the ones that start off car alarms and scare babies," Victor said.
Where to park
Last year, many people who watched fireworks and enjoyed themselves at the Marana Star Spangled Spectacular parked within the Arizona Pavilions complex.
The town's Adelina Martin expects that to happen again. People going to the new Crossroads at Silverbell Park might be able to find a spot there. "People can come and have picnics," she said. The Pines has spaces available. Continental Ranch Development is allowing parking on its property, too.
Portable restrooms are being placed throughout.
Martin, special event and volunteer coordinator for Marana's Parks and Recreation Department, said recreation and parks staff members would help with parking, crowd control and trash clean-up Sunday night.
What's in store from Arizona Pavilions businesses:
Mathnasium — Games for kids, coupons for assessments.
Tower Theatres — Jumping castles, outdoor concessions.
Boston's The Gourmet Pizza — Drink and food specials, free chips and salsa at every table.
La Quinta Inn and Suites — $55 room special, two free ice cream sandwiches per room, discounts to Texas Roadhouse.
Texas Roadhouse — Tented outdoor dining, face painting, water balloon contests, a clown, basketball games, grilled food.
Native New Yorker — Outdoor dining, specials, free ice cream with kids' meals.
The Pines Golf Club — Grass seating, a stage with entertainment, beer garden, kids' activities.
St. Margarita Youth Ministry / Continental Ranch Development — Food and drinks.