Who Launches the Big Fireworks Displays in Aroostook County, Maine?
Family Owned Business
Most of the fireworks displays you see at Aroostook County events are from a family owned, Maine company that has been doing it for decades. Central Maine Pyrotechnics operates out of Farmingdale and launches fireworks throughout the state as well as New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Anthony Marson is the Vice President of the company. He shared some of the behind the scenes work that goes on and what it takes to make it all happen.
The company started in 1987 with the purpose of providing fireworks in a centralized area of Maine. They started expanding out to areas like Aroostook County around 2007. “We’re a family owned business,” said Anthony Marson. “My dad, Steve, owns it.” They currently have eight retail stores across the state.
Getting into the business is knowing people who are doing it and getting involved. It’s a hands-on venture and experience is key. Marson said, “I’ve been going to do shows with my dad since I was like 8. Basically, all the technicians we have are friends of friends of friends that have gotten into the business. That’s how my dad started. A guy asked him when he was 16 to help him on a show, and he got into it, and that was 50 years ago.”
Road Flares Light the Way
Lighting the fuses is a practiced technique. Marson said Central Maine Pyrotechnics lights most of the shells by hand, using road flares. “In Maine we typically use road flares unless we’re shooting 8 inch shells. When we work out of state it depends on what we have to do.”
A Thrill & Rush
If you think it would be a thrill to set the fuse, it is. “It’s certainly a rush to say the least, especially when the finale starts ripping off,” said Marson. “When you’re doing it by hand, you’re right there watching it, making sure everything burns off the way it’s supposed to.”
Safety is the number one priority. Marson said they follow all the rules and regulations, including what they wear when working. “We’re required to wear long sleeves, long pants, cotton-based clothing or fire-retardant clothing, steel toes, glasses, gloves, ear plugs and a hardhat.”
How Long Does the Show Go?
The length of a fireworks show in northern Maine can last up to 15 minutes with the finale being a real crowd pleaser. “The finale will be about 2 minutes. You’re looking at 200 shots for the finale, maybe 230,” said Marson.
We all have our favorite fireworks with a variety of shapes, sounds and colors. These patterns are created when the shell is made. “When the shell breaks, the pattern gets shot out. The big boomers are called ‘salutes.’ The ‘willows have the showering effect and almost go to the ground,” said Marson. “Some of our bigger caliber assortments have interlocking rings, butterflies, mushrooms and jellyfish.”
Central Maine Pyrotechnics are the ones who do the 4th of July fireworks, the Houlton Fair, Northern Maine Fair, Potato Blossom Festival and many other events. “Up in the County, we’re doing ‘town celebrations.’ It’s mostly municipalities,” said Marson. Here's a link to some of the fireworks they've done in Aroostook County. Below, there's a photo from the Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield.
For more information, visit the store in Presque isle and talk to Corrie and Dave. You can also call or email Central Maine Pyrotechnics. Go to their Facebook and homepage for all the contact details.