Jackson Countians can expect a rather loud bang about 9:45 p.m. Saturday at Longview Lake.
That’s when specialists are expected to launch what’s believed to be the largest commercial fireworks shell in the nation — a 24-inch, 150-pound behemoth, crafted recently and rolled into place Friday morning near Shelter 2 at the lake.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and county park officials watched proudly as a work crew carefully moved the shell from a protected locker to a mortar tube behind a stand of trees. The county has worked for almost a year to obtain the necessary permits — and hire the necessary expertise — to manufacture the big noise, Sanders said.
“What we want to do in the Kansas City area is compete with any fireworks display in the United States,” he said.
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But matching the displays in Washington, D.C., or Boston would be prohibitively expensive, he said. So private sponsors helped the county scrape together $50,000 for the fireworks display at Longview Lake, with $17,500 set aside for producing, securing and deploying the monster round.
It will take 15 pounds of accelerant just to lift the shell from a special mortar tube buried in the ground at the lake. The blockbuster was built by a Connecticut firm and will be fired by a local fireworks display company, J&M Displays of Liberty.
Judd Ward, the company’s manager, helped move the explosive into place Friday. “It was a little less nerve-wracking than I thought it would be,” he said. “It was pretty stable.”
Reporters, photographers and a handful of county officials watched the placement of the shell. Safely. At a distance.
County officials expect 20,000 people to watch the display — from the other side of Longview Lake. Police and fire officials have spent several days suggesting Kansas Citians take in a public fireworks show instead of shooting off their own fountains and firecrackers.
More than 10,000 people were hurt in fireworks accidents last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, including 7,000 injuries during the month around the Fourth of July. Eleven people were killed, the agency says, including two in Missouri.
Yet even public fireworks shows can be dangerous. More than two dozen people were hurt when a public fireworks display misfired in California in 2013. The safety commission says 300 people were hurt at public displays last year.
Sanders said the county has taken every precaution with Saturday’s show, even with a large bomb bursting in air. “It’s a big park,” he said.
Entrance to Longview Lake is free. The program, which starts at 5:30 p.m., will include music and skydiving as well as fireworks.
Other public displays are planned throughout the Kansas City area Saturday.
To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send email to email@example.com.