The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


July 2, 2014

FIREWORKS: Athens annual show this Friday

— Ready to hear the booming echos and watch as fire erupts 600 feet in the air?  Thousands will gather Friday for the Athens annual fireworks show.

The free event, sponsored by the city of Athens, Limestone County and the Athens-Limestone Tourism Association, will begin between 8:30 and 9 p.m. near Athens High School.

The show is being produced by Adamsville, Alabama-based Pyro Productions.

The production company, which has a 100 percent national safety record, shoots about 175 shows annually. This Fourth of July weekend, the pyrotechnic team will shoot 70 shows in five states over a course of three days.

Debbie Neu, president and founder of the company, is one of the only women in the nation to operate a professional fireworks company.

When it comes to good firework shows, she said communication and coordination is key.

“There are no dress rehearsals,” she said. “We’ve got one shot to get it right.” 

Neu said Jeff Burns, a highly qualified firefighter, will serve as the head pyrotechnician for a “big and beautiful” show that will last about 20 minutes.

“He is not only highly-trained, but does a great job shooting shows,” Neu said.

The show will include tradtional fireworks along with pattern shells such as five-pointed stars in red, white and blue and happy faces, a crowd favorite.

“Spectators will see every color in the rainbow,” Neu said.

Her advice — “it’s better to watch the show from afar.” She added it keeps everyone safe and out of the fall out zone. For this show, Neu said the pyrotechnician needs about 420 feet in all directions or an 840 foot diameter for the fall out zone (an area where fireworks are set up and one that should be off limits to spectators.)

“Everytime I shoot a firework, I get butterflies in my stomach,” Neu said. “It’s an adreline rush that no roller coaster ride can give me. It’s a thrill and very rewarding. No matter if it’s a big show or small, I still get that same feeling.

“It’s about getting to entertain thousands or more at one time,” Neu said. “When you hear the roar of the crowd, it doesn’t get much better than that.” 


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