Fred Mowry III and his crew have put the blast in Miami Springs fireworks for more than 20 years. Originally from Homestead, he has lived for 25 years in Live Oak, (near the Florida/Georgia border) where he has a small farm.
“I never claim to be an expert on explosives because experts blow themselves up,” Mowry said. “But I’ve been doing this for 35 years.”
According to Mowry, someone in his family has been in the explosives business for 60-70 years. His father, Fred Mowry Jr., wrote the draft for the first explosives laws in the state and Miami-Dade County.
Mowry is contracted by Gary Avins, owner of Fire Power, a company based in Princeton, a small community in south Miami-Dade County. Avins designs the show, for which the city pays $15,000.
“I like the people of Miami Springs because we’ve never had a problem with spectators, authorities or pyrotechnics,” Mowry said. “Residents should be proud of their law enforcement and elected officials for making this enjoyable. I’ve been places where it’s a disaster from politics on down because people want to get involved with what we do. That doesn’t happen here.”
This year the pyrotechnicians started setting up their equipment on the evening of July 3. With his crew of five (mostly family members), Mowry estimated that it takes 150-200 worker hours to prepare the show. That doesn’t include tearing it down, picking up all the equipment, including duds, if any, and removing blasting tubes.
“We get here early to set up so if it rains, it won’t affect us,” Mowry said on the afternoon of July 4. “We’ve been loaded and ready since last night.”
In pyrotechnics lingo, Mowry explained that the setup has 150 squibs that are ignited with an electric match. Each match sets off from three to 30 sets of explosives that create the 20- to 30-minute fireworks display.
The fireworks are Chinese-made and the display is designed to use the biggest explosions possible for the site size.
Mowry said Fire Power never scrimps.
“The shooter, my son-in-law (button pusher) and myself are behind a downhill barricade,” Mowry said. “The rest of the crew acts as security to keep an eye out for encroachers. If that happens, the show stops. What we do is a lot safer than home stuff. People can be injured or killed. I teach my crew everything about safety before they progress in the business.”
Mowry said his show can go on even in the rain but it doesn’t make for a good display. Also, winds over 5-6 mph can alter the effect. The only thing that puts the brakes on a show is lightning because it can cause everything to fire at once. Spectacular, but not safe for the crew.
“If it rains,” Mowry said, “we get wet like everyone else but the show will go on.”
Fortunately, the weather was perfect for this year’s fireworks show; however, five minutes after it ended, the skies opened up and drenched onlookers on their way to their cars.
It was still a blast!