Jul 4, 2011 9:28 PM by Ariel Wesler

Sneak peek at the fireworks display in Santa Maria

It's one of America's most beloved traditions, fireworks displays on the 4th of July, but we wondered what goes into putting on a dazzling fireworks show.

Before those fireworks ever light up the night sky, there's a lot of ground work. A crew from Pyro Spectaculars started setting up around 9 a-m.

"These are part of our finale. They're chained together," said Pyrotechnician Mike Hanto as he showed off the fireworks. "30, 4-inch shells here that will go off in about one and a half seconds."

The fireworks show in Santa Maria is in Hanto's hands. He's been a pyrotechnician for four years and this is the first time he's set up a show at the fairpark.

"You load them down and make sure they go all the way to the bottom and when you light them, they launch out of these tubes and that's what shoots them into the air," Hanto said.

The larger the shells, the higher they fly and the bigger the explosions. Most shoot more than 200 feet in the air. Staff members even dedicate some of the fireworks to loved ones and military men and women.

"I take down their names and I put them on various one's and I've used the red, white, and blue ones for that," said Mickey Grube, who helped set up the display.

Fire inspectors were also on scene to make sure the company was taking the proper precautions.

The 30-minute show includes more than 1400 fireworks ranging in size from one 1 to 4 inch shells.

"You're down usually on one knee with the flare lighting the fuse," Hanto said.

"I have about enough time to light the fuse and turn my head and it goes," said Teala Reynolds, the only woman on the crew.

The $15,000 thousand dollar celebration is expected to draw thousands for America's 235th birthday.

Hanto says his six-person crew wears full motorcycle helmets when they light the fireworks.

More than 2500 people are expected to turn out for tonight's show. Parking is free at the fairpark. The gates opened at 3. The fireworks are set to begin at 9.


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