By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Twelve seconds.
It may seem like a short life, but the first firework of Delano’s 4th of July display Saturday night will be remembered long after it fades from the sky.
With glittering rings of birthstone shells, pulsing diamonds, and flickers of blue, the firework will be particularly meaningful for Delano fireworks co-chair Greg Glavan.
“This kind of shell is not typically in a public display,” Greg said, explaining that it was created in memory of his father, Allan Glavan, who died of prostate cancer March 30.
The show will start at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 6, and the best viewing spot is on the dike near Central Park.
The memorial shell will be fired remotely by Greg’s mother, Marilyn. It will whistle when fired out of the mortar, representing a jet landing on a carrier. (Allan was a chemical engineer, and had worked on a top-secret project for the defense department developing synthetic rubber for jet aircraft during the Korean War.)
Rings in the birthstone colors of Allan’s five children will be displayed in the firework including two garnet-colored shells for Greg and his sister, Theresa; a topaz one for his brother, Joseph “Joey;” a sapphire one for his sister Gennifer; and an amethyst one for his brother, Andy.
Allan’s wife, Marilyn, is also recognized, with white flashing stars (representing diamonds for their wedding anniversary in April) in each birthstone ring.
Since blue was Allan’s favorite color, several blue strobe shells are included in the memorial firework.
“Blue is really, really difficult to achieve in pyrotechnics,” Greg said, explaining that not only is the chemistry involved in making blue very sensitive to high heat, but since blue is a short wavelength (next to ultraviolet), it is more difficult for the human eye to perceive than other colors.
Adding a strobe effect makes the shell even more challenging to create, Greg said.
“The finished weight of this shell is 38.5 pounds, and it took over 30 hours to build,” he noted.
The firework was a collaborative effort among several people, including master shell builder Tom Neisen. Greg and Neisen are both licensed fireworks display operators, and members of the Northern Lighter Pyrotechnics, a non-profit group that promotes the safety, skill, and artistry of pyrotechnics.
“The Northern Lighters are greatly indebted again this year to Doug Vick of Delano Rental, who has donated the use of a Bobcat auger attachment to assist us in the placement of our mortars,” Greg noted.
The Italian memorial shell, which was donated by Neisen, will be different than fireworks normally seen in a public display. Professional photographer Rep. Joe McDonald plans to do a time-lapse photo of the shell’s effects.
“Unlike Oriental-style ball shells, which are relatively inexpensive and break from the center in a simple pattern, Italian shells are more complex and break from the top down,” Greg said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what Tom was able to come up with.”