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Fireworks: The thing behind the bang


500 pounds of fireworks in 700 shells light up the town




Matt Owings is loading two of the 700 shells to be used in the spectacular aerial display.


By Max Caylor

Contributing writer

It is 10:05 p.m. on the night of July 4th and Chad Sweat, the crew leader of Pyro Shows said, “I am about to go boom.” 

He was preparing to fire 500 pounds of fireworks across the dark evening skies of Jasper to conclude the Independence Day celebration coordinated by the Lion’s Club of Jasper. 

The 700 shells had been loaded in their mortar racks and were ready to be shot from the Lawson pasture just west of the old PHS football field and across from Newton Park.  

Sweat used a wood framed firing board to manually ignite each rack of fireworks by flipping a toggle switch.

People gathered in bank, church, cemetery, and school parking lots and on the side of any road where  they could view the dazzling pyro display. The impressive 15 minute  aerial display was sponsored by Entegra Bank and Goss Equipment at a cost of $10,000.  

The three-man crew from Pyro Shows from Lafollette, TN needed most the day to setup for the evening show. The company has almost 50 years experience and puts on about 1,000 shows each year with over 400 being around July 4th. Other Pyro affiliates are located in Alabama and Texas.

“We offer pyro technician training leading to licensing and becoming a professional Pyro,” said James Woods the southeastern sales manager for the company. Pyro Shows has produced the Jasper fireworks for the past six years.  For more information about the company or training visit .