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LI's Grucci family provides pyrotechnics for nation's capital celebration

Phil Grucci, CEO of Fireworks by Grucci, in

Phil Grucci, CEO of Fireworks by Grucci, in 2011. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Long Island's own Fireworks by Grucci will provide the pyrotechnics for the nation's Independence Day celebration Thursday, filling a mile of sky above the Lincoln Memorial with 19,000 explosions and showers of light, including a giant American flag.

From its headquarters in Bellport, the Grucci family, now in its sixth generation of creating such displays, is preparing a show expected to be the largest in the country this July Fourth, said company CEO Phil Grucci.

"This is our day," said Grucci, 56, in between handling phone calls Tuesday. "Our family is deeply tied to Independence Day."

The fireworks extravaganza is part of President Donald Trump's re-imagining of the capital celebration. His "Salute to America" will also feature a presidential address, Army tanks and military flyovers. The event has drawn political heat from Democrats upset over the price tag and the addition of politics. Grucci said the cost of the fireworks show will not be borne by taxpayers.

The $750,000 tab for the display will be footed by Phantom Fireworks, an Ohio-based retailer of consumer fireworks, which Grucci said often works with the family. 

Grucci has been a family-run business since 1850. It is considered among the premium pyrotechnics firms in the world. The Washington show will feature state-of-the-art technology and creations. The 15-minute show, expected to cap the event at 9:07 p.m., will be run by a crew of 25 people operating 18 computer systems, he said.

The show is so big that the family started installing it in Washington  June 25. The logistical challenges are such that the entire show will be brought to the site Thursday on 19 flatbed trailers. 

In a salute to America's men and women in uniform, the fireworks display will be choreographed to patriotic music. Each of the nation's armed services will have its own moment. When the music plays for the Army, for example, green fireworks will fill the sky, the Army's symbolic color. For the Navy, the displays will be blue.

When "The Stars and Stripes Forever" plays, the family will reveal its own creation of a fireworks-generated American Flag, 700-feet-wide and 600-feet-high, Grucci said. 

Big, high-profile shows are nothing new for the Grucci family. They created the American flag display for the 200th anniversary of "The Star Spangled Banner" in 2014. The family has also provided fireworks displays for every presidential inauguration since Ronald Reagan.

The Gruccis hold nine Guinness World Records, including the largest pyrotechnics show, using just under a million fireworks shells last year.

This Independence Day, the Gruccis will produce 67 shows across the country, including ones in Boston, Pearl Harbor and near the Statue of Liberty. Here on Long Island, they'll be showing their pyrotechnic artistry in Montauk, Bald Hill and Southampton, Grucci said.

Grucci remains a very much hands-on family run company. Phil Grucci's son, Christopher, handles the logistics for all shows. Daughter Lauren oversees the display at the Boston show, and a nephew, Corey Grucci, is personnel manager over the firm's 500 pyrotechnicians.

"You can see the passion we have for this," Phil Grucci said. "And it all comes out of Long Island."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the day that Phil Grucci talked about his company's Independence Day fireworks display in Washington. 

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