Midnight, January 1, 2014: Nearly 2 million revelers crowd at the center of Dubai, smartphones held up, awaiting what promises to be an epic New Year’s display. The crowd roars as fiery bursts of color shoot out from Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and nearly 500,000 fireworks explode along 60 miles of coastline, creating an artificial sunrise throughout the city.
It was official: America’s First Family of Fireworks—as the Gruccis of Long Island are known in the industry—had set the world record for largest fireworks display.
In 2011, Fireworks by Grucci dazzled spectators in Tuckahoe at the Generoso Pope Foundation building’s centennial celebration. Fireworks were launched from the building’s rooftop and façade, making the event “a first of its kind in Westchester County history, using the finest close-proximity pyrotechnics,” says Chief Pyrotechnician Charlie DeSalvo. A Harrison native with 20-plus years at the company, DeSalvo serves as lead technician on the ground, supervising a crew handling the explosives from a show’s start to finish.
Since relocating to New York in 1870 (from southern Italy, where the fifth-generation family-owned company was founded in 1850), Grucci has performed at seven consecutive presidential inaugurations, starting with Ronald Reagan’s; Olympic Games in Lake Placid, LA, Salt Lake City, and Beijing; and centennials of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty.
Locally, the company also puts on Fourth of July displays in Port Chester and New Rochelle, at Parkway Oval Park in Tuckahoe (July 19), and at Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester for Columbus Day. As for the best show in town, DeSalvo plugs the “heart-pounding” Independence Day Celebration held at Port Chester High School, which he calls “truly the jewel of any Westchester fireworks event.”