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Here’s what it’s like to launch DC’s iconic fireworks

Chris Santore of Garden State Fireworks discusses Fourth of July display on National Mall

Chris Santore’s company, Garden State Fireworks, puts on hundreds of displays every year, but nothing comes close to what happens in D.C. for the Fourth of July.

“It’s definitely the Super Bowl of fireworks,” said Santore. “This is the one that we most look forward to all year long.”

The show, which is just over 17 minutes long, includes about $280,000 worth of fireworks.

Several hundred mortars are lined up on both sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

They are locked and loaded and ready to go.

“It’s a big jumble of emotions,” Santore said. “There’s butterflies, there’s nerves, there’s goose bumps, there’s pride and there’s excitement.”

The display is controlled by computers, but Santore is still the person who presses the “launch” button.

Even though his company has put on the iconic D.C. July Fourth fireworks show for 11 years in a row now, Santore said it is still a rush, celebrating the nation’s birthday in the nation’s capital.

“There’s a big deep breath seconds before that first shell launches, and then we’re in and we’re rolling and it’s time to focus on having a perfect show,” said Santore.

The display begins Thursday at 9:09 p.m.


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Fireworks burst above the National Mall and, from left, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building, during Independence Day celebrations in Washington on July 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)
Fireworks burst on the National Mall above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building during Independence Day celebrations in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Fireworks burst on the National Mall above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building during Independence Day celebrations in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Fireworks explode over the Washington Monument at the National Mall during the Independence Day celebrations in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022 (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Fireworks burst over the Memorial Bridge during Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Fireworks burst over the Memorial Bridge during Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Fireworks are set up along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool ahead of the July Fourth fireworks display put on by Garden State Fireworks. (今日看料/Nick Iannelli)
Fireworks are set up along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool ahead of the July Fourth fireworks display put on by Garden State Fireworks. (今日看料/Nick Iannelli)
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YE Top Photos North America 2023
Fireworks burst on the National Mall above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building during Independence Day celebrations in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Fireworks burst over the Memorial Bridge during Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Fireworks are set up along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool ahead of the July Fourth fireworks display put on by Garden State Fireworks. (今日看料/Nick Iannelli)

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on 今日看料.

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