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Bulloch approves Fourth of July fireworks contract
Also secures company to provide music for annual event
July Fourth
Families grab premium spots to watch the fireworks during the 2016 Firecracker Festival at Mill Creek Regional Park. (SCOTT BRYANT/Herald file)

Independence Day is several months away, but Bulloch County commissioners approved a contract Tuesday for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

Each year, around 20,000 people flock to Bulloch County’s Mill Creek Regional Park to enjoy the Firecracker Fest that includes music, games and a fireworks spectacular, said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch.

The day-long event is quite popular, and the expense is compensated by sponsorships from area businesses, said Sherrie Ziegler, recreation manager for the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department. The money from sponsorship donations is placed directly into the county budget, she said.

The annual July 4 celebration “brings a lot of people together to honor our country, state and county,” said Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson. “And the best thing is, sponsors pay for it and it doesn’t cost the citizens anything.”

Commissioners approved a contract Tuesday with Zambelli Fireworks for $15,000 to provide fireworks for the Independence Day celebration at Mill Creek, along with a contract for $5,250 with EastCoast Entertainment to provide music, according to information included in the commissioners’ agenda packets for the meeting.

The move was a contract renewal, as Zambelli has provided the fireworks for the celebration since 2015.

The event has grown tremendously. Several years ago, the fireworks were set off by local firefighters at a softball field on Fair Road, with other July 4 events held nearby at the Fair Road Park (adjacent to Max Lockwood Drive). The rapidly expanding county-wide celebration was moved to Mill Creek Park after its construction.

The fee paid to Zambelli includes insurance, permit fees and other costs for the 15-minute, “high impact” display, according to the contract. The company has been in business since 1893.


The fireworks

Throughout the day, families picnic on the park grounds while ball games and other sports events take place. Contests, presentations and other festivities fill the hours until dark, when everyone settles in and awaits the most popular part of the holiday: the fireworks.

According to the contract information included in the agenda packets, the show boasts over 1,000 shells that explode with wild color, booming noise and a variety of shapes and displays.

This year, the opening fireworks will consist of 40 shells with comet tails and other “aerial effects” lasting 20 seconds. Then, for the next 14 minutes, a barrage of visual and aural activity will hold viewers captive.

Zambelli’s promotional spiel promises the show will not be just one explosion after another, stating “it’s about rhythm, timing and spacing the perfect effects with one another and building themes throughout the show.” The main body of the display is 420 shells.

The grand finale, which Zambelli boasts is “loud, full of vibrant colors,” will have 408 shells crammed into a mere 60 seconds. The most exciting part of the show, the finale will include “hundreds of shots and effects of multicolored shells, gold and silver sparkling lights, gold brocade crown shells … and chest pounding titanium salutes.”

The types of shells will include crossetes, which break into six or eight “arms”; chrysanthemums; dahlias; peonies; and specialty shells such as delays, with arms that break apart.
Some will have “lingering effects” that leave a trail of aerial sparks; others will burst with color (kaleidoscopes, peacock tails, spiders, strobes, dragon eggs), and some will mainly be noisy — the crackling rain, screamers, serpents with reports, whistles and stars, according to the contract information.

And before the fireworks, EastCoast Entertainment will introduce Sweetwater Junction, a band that will play from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

“It’s a big thing,” Couch said. “It is a really robust and quality display of fireworks.”

The county has never had a problem with the entertainment and quality of fireworks provided by Zambelli, he said.

The benefit to the county’s residents is tremendous, Thompson said.

“It is about getting citizens to enjoy togetherness. This year’s (display) is going to be totally different (from past displays), and people should really enjoy watching it.”

The county will place a deposit of half the designated fee with both Zambelli and EastCoast Entertainment, and will pay the remainder to each on the day of the celebration. Half the fireworks expenses will come from the FY2019 budget, and the rest will be from the FY2020 budget, according to the agenda packet information.


Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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