Atlantic City has pooled its resources into one fireworks show this year rather than two, a move that has marketers calling the Boardwalk display the largest in the state.
But Felix Grucci, one of the owners of Fireworks by Grucci, a famed Long Island, N.Y., firm in charge of the fireworks, was unwilling to talk size Tuesday, preferring to focus on whether the crowd will enjoy the show tonight rather than the number of pyrotechnics.
“Highlighting the number of pieces takes the experience in a different direction,” he said. “A fireworks performance is an art form and entertainment medium not a commodity.”
The 23-minute show is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. and will be viewable along the Boardwalk and beach.
Although its size and standing couldn’t be verified, Atlantic City was named to the list of Top 10 Cities for Fireworks by ABC News and was an honorable mention on the list put together by Forbes.com.
Pyrotechnic workers from Grucci — well-known in the field, including for setting a world record for largest fireworks show in Dubai in 2008 — have spent days in preparation. A team on Tuesday loaded the fireworks onto a barge in Lower Township bound for the waters off the Atlantic City coastline.
The barge was loaded with different sized pyrotechnics, including ones measuring 10 inches in diameter and weighing 20 pounds, which result in a white strobe and red flitter that will fill much of the sky. Other fireworks include packages of tightly wound pyrotechnics — manufactured by Grucci in a Chinese factory — which are designed to produce a loud bang and special effect.
“They give a lot of kick and power,” Joe Mercante, a Grucci project manager, said of the explosive. “By restricting its burst, it creates more force.”
While the pyrotechnics are ignited through computers and electronics on the barge, some also carry a timed explosive inside that will go off once the piece is shot into the air, causing a secondary fireworks explosion in the air.
Other highlights include willow shell fireworks that explode in the air and then descend slowly into the ocean, reflecting off the water, Mercante said. The show’s finale also is designed to captivate with a multitude of fireworks.
“The last 10 seconds is the finale key,” Mercante said.
While Grucci has worked on movie sets, including “Pearl Harbor,” his company always looks forward to Fourth of July fireworks, particularly when it is choreographed to music and the audience is familiar with the song, Mercante said.
“You feel them, you hear them, you get that energy from them,” he said of the audience.
Mercante, who is originally from Long Island but now lives in Missouri, said he often marveled at fireworks displays from afar when he was a child, but that changed when he befriended a member of the Grucci family in college and began working in the field. He was a business and management major but took theater classes, which fed his artistic side.
“That entertainment theatric is in my nature,” Mercante said. “It’s been the best of both worlds.”
Also on the lineup for Atlantic City’s free Fourth of July show is a 10 p.m. concert on Kennedy Plaza on the Boardwalk performed by Kevin Rudolf and later a 10:20 p.m. 3-D sound and light show created by Moment Factory, a Montreal new media and entertainment studio.
In the audience for the concert will be Rudolf’s parents, Steve and Pat Rudolf, who live in Ventnor.
Pat Rudolf, 60, who is Kevin’s stepmother, said the couple is excited to see their son perform close to home.
“He’s coming to us and New Jersey,” Rudolf said. “It’s cool to see him evolve.”
Kevin Rudolf is best known for “Let It Rock,” which also is the theme for the fireworks show. He grew up in New York City, where he excelled in performing arts, Pat Rudolf said.
“He always wanted to be a rock star,” she said.
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