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What You Should Know About The Largest Fireworks Shell In Kansas City

flickr user jeff_golden

The night sky will light up this Fourth of July weekend with dozens of fireworks celebrations across the Kansas City metro.

The largest — and possibly the loudest — is likely to take place Saturday night at Jackson County's festivities at Longview Lake. 

During the fireworks finale, a giant shell — 24 inches in diameter — will be launched. This shell is thought to be the largest in the nation this year at a commercial fireworks display. 

Judd Ward, salesman and lead pyrotechnician for J&M Displays, Inc., says it's not uncommon for cities to want to pull out all the stops for the holiday, and that's what Jackson County officials asked them to do.

"That’s kind of what we were tasked with — what can you do that’s going to set us apart from the rest of the country?" Ward says. "This is the heart of America, this is Kansas City. Give us something that’s going to make us unique over the east coast shows and the west coast shows."

The shell weighs about 150 pounds, including 15 pounds of lift charges to accelerate it through the air.

"We expect the shell to break at approximately 1,800 to 2,000 feet, and then, once it breaks, we expect it to be close to 2,500 feet wide," he says. "The duration of the shell should last almost 10 to 12 seconds in the sky." 

Ward adds, "This is the first time that anybody has done this for a public display. It was a learning experience for everybody, but also very exciting, especially for our builders that came in to produce the shell."

A 24-inch shell is too hazardous to transport, he says, so it was built at Longview Lake Saturday through Monday, with the help of six people. Ward says it took months of planning, including finding the right builder and coordinating with the state of Missouri and the ATF. He declined to disclose the costs. 

Ward says on the Fourth of July, he'll be on site at Longview Lake to watch the show. Fireworks are scheduled to start at 9:45 pm. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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