R&R Fireworks shot the old-fashioned way

BY VIRGINIA CODY

Fireworks and the 4th of July go hand in hand.  And the Montrose Area Chamber of Commerce keeps with the tradition with a pyrotechnic display slated to cap of Independence Day festivities.

The company contracted for the show once again this year is R & R Fireworks, a family-owned outfit from Houtzdale in Clearfield County.

The company’s Montrose shows have been so well received a service organization from neighboring Wyoming County has also signed on with R&R.

Jeff Tyler, a member of the Chamber’s fireworks committee, thanked the business community for their support.

“The Chamber of Commerce is not in the fireworks business – without the business community and the community’s support would not be able to bring the show to Montrose,” Tyler said.

Tyler said the Chamber likes the professionalism R&R brings to the show.

The Tunkhannock Rotary Club hired R&R under a three year contract last year after watching one of their Montrose performances, said Frank Maher the Rotary Club’s fireworks coordinator. Fireworks will be held Sunday, July 3 at the Tunkhannock High School stadium.

Steve Rosenberg, part-owner and lead pyrotechnician for R & R says plans for both shows are underway.

Rosenberg said, “We’re bringing some different effects and new designs. There will be some new things to look at.”

“Ninety-nine percent of our program will be Class B fireworks,” he said.  “The American flag on the ground will be Class C.”

According to Pennsylvania law, Class C fireworks are available to the consumer while Class B fireworks can only be set off after a permit is issued by the borough or township.

Class B fireworks are the more dangerous, said Rosenberg who claims to have been handling fireworks for a “good 30 years.”

His company, which is co-owned with his father, has only been around for six years.  Prior to then, both father and son worked for a different fireworks outfit. Rosenberg said his father would be at this year’s Montrose show.

“We’re fully insured.  Once a town knows that, usually no one gives (us) trouble giving us a permit,” he said.

The company plans to set off between 4,000 and 5,000 shots at this year’s show.

“Some go up around 200 to 250 feet,” Rosenberg said, “Some go up to 600 feet.”

Rosenberg explained that the size of the shell lets him know how high the rocket will be propelled.

“Two inches, 200 feet.  Four inches, 400 feet.”

One of the unique qualities of the Tunkhannock show is that R & R Fireworks doesn’t rely on an electronic firing mechanism to orchestrate the display.

“It’s all hand-lit stuff,” he said, adding that he prefers this to the electronic method.

“You know how to pace yourself that way.

But with three or four pyrotechnicians on the field during a performance, Rosenberg acknowledges everyone has to know just what the others are doing at any given point in time.

His workers, though, he said, have all been working together for years and instinctively understand each other’s actions.

The key thing, he said, is that “you’ve got to pay attention.”

The Montrose fireworks display is presented each year by the Montrose Area Chamber of Commerce as a community service.  Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., Pump N Pantry and Price Chopper in Montrose, as well as others have made donations to fund the display.

Staff writer Staci Wilson contributed to this report.