Fire Workers

by Dave on August 22, 2009

Frantz, Zambelli prepare to light up Rehoboth on Saturday

This article first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, July 2, 2009.

By Paige Lauren Deiner

In 1970, Steve Frantz received a phone call that would change the course of his life.

Frantz, an insurance agent, was asked to write a policy for a fireworks company. Unclear of the risks and liabilities involved in fireworks, Frantz asked to accompany the owner of the company to one of his shows. While the audience “oohed” and “aahed” at the light show in the sky, Frantz found himself mesmerized by the complexity of shooting off shells in sequence and the challenge of timing each explosion.

Frantz wrote the policy for the company, and learned that his passion in life was putting on fireworks productions, not insuring them.

“I started going to shows with (the head of the company),” he said. “I learned the business and became a shooter. Eventually I trained a crew and then started working part and eventually full time.”

A few years ago, Frantz left that company to become the National Sales Manager for Zambelli Fireworks International. Though he primarily works with customers to create shows now, Frantz still loves the adrenaline rush of setting off fireworks.

“I love being in the entertainment business,” he said. “Everyone loves fireworks. It appeals to all ages, all classes of social structure, all economic levels.”

Frantz will be able to showcase his almost 40 years in the fireworks business this July Fourth when he and his team will put on Rehoboth’s firework show.

Shot from a barge, Rehoboth’s $50,000 fireworks show will take three days to set-up and thousands of man-hours to build, pack and design. Just one shell used in a show can take three days to make.

“It’s a lot of work, but that makes the beauty of it,” Frantz said.

Last year the show drew 80,000 people to Rehoboth Beach. This year sponsors hope it will bring even more people to the resort town.

“It makes sure that our July 4th weekend is very popular,” said Fay Jacobs, executive director of Rehoboth Beach Main Street, a non-profit committed to preserving and promoting Rehoboth. “All our hotels, rentals are filled. The whole weekend is huge because of the fireworks.”

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