Portales readies blast for Independence Day

By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer

Honor and entertainment are the themes for tonight’s $8,000 fireworks display at Eastern New Mexico University’s football practice field. More than a thousand explosive shells will be fired into the air, so officials are making sure that utmost safety precautions are taken.

The Portales fireworks display has been run by Desert Star Pyrotechnics owner Allan Silvers for nearly five years now. Creating an entertaining show that represents the holiday’s theme of patriotism is his main goal. But the company keeps extreme precautions in mind in preparation of the show, Silvers said.

“We have a great location to shoot fireworks where the fire danger is much lower,” Silvers said.

The field the fireworks shells will be shot from will have freshly watered and cut green grass, he said. The area will be off limits to the spectators, who may watch from the Greyhound Arena parking lot or the adjacent field. Silvers will keep about eight assistants nearby to help safely watch and run the display.

The Portales Fire Department will be there with a prepared firetruck, along with security from the city, county and college, according to Silvers. He and his team will wear eye and ear protection, hard hats and long-sleeve cotton shirts while handling the shells, he said.

The Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce collected donations for the display, which cost nearly $8,000, according to Sharon King, the director of the Roosevelt Chamber of Commerce. As of Monday they were only $255 under the projected amount.

“I’m just tickled to death with that. It’s going to be wonderful,” she said.
Previous years have shown similar results in funding for the event.
“We really want people to enjoy themselves and the reason why the fireworks are there — Independence Day,” Silvers said.

Silvers said he tries to avoid boredom at all costs when organizing the shots. The company bought about 600 single-explosion shells and hundreds of “multi-shot cakes,” fireworks used predominantly for the finale.

Silvers said he avoids the monotony of shooting single fireworks into the air by periodically adding in thunderous booms called a “salute” to the show. He said he also buys many types of original and new shells, and choreographs them to create a sense of rhythm and pattern.

“To me it is a form of art. I look at it with a patriotic mentality, not just to present a show that people can enjoy but a show to honor all veterans,” said Silvers.