1893
Zambelli, Grucci and Italian American fireworks predominance.


The preponderance of Italian Americans in the fireworks industry is readily evident in extraordinary pyrotechnic displays for momentous events such as presidential inaugurations, the Two Hundredth Anniversary of American Independence and the New Year of 2,000. Among the most important families in the field are: the Zambellis of New Castle, Pennsylvania; the Gruccis of Bellport, New York; the Rozzis of Loveland, Ohio; the Cartianos of Kingsbury, Indiana; and the Souzas of Rialto, California. In addition, there were many other anonymous Italian immigrants who worked in the field of pyrotechnics and brought the craft to America.

Coming from Italy, a country that had a long history with fireworks ever since Marco Polo brought the technique to Italy after his thirteenth century visit to China, Italians acquired a great deal of expertise in igniting sulfur and saltpeter to effect spectacular sights and booming noises. Not surprisingly, Italians were regularly employed by other countries to provide fireworks on special occasions such as the conclusion of feasts, the swearing in of new monarchs, and great military victories.

In 1893 Antonio Zambelli was one of the first Italian immigrants with this background to come to this country and establish a fireworks company. Headquartered in New Castle, Pennsylvania, the Zambelli Company conducted displays on occasions of feasts, Fourth of July celebrations, bank openings, ball games, and other events. The company strove to make fireworks more than just a sideshow, indeed it evolved into a major entertainment spectacular that synchronized electronic firings, with music, blazing displays of emblems, and laser light shows.

Zambelli's largest rival in the business is the Grucci family of Bellport, New York that originated in Apulia, Bari. Felix Grucci, Sr. who began the company in America, learned the fireworks business from his mother. The expertise developed by the Gruccis won the respect even of American military munitions researchers during the Second World War. Leadership in the fireworks industry has brought the families involved fortune and fame -as for example, the spectacular bicentennial show for which the Grucci family won the Gold Medal of the International Fireworks Competition. Fame in pyrotechnics as opened other doors: Felix Grucci, for example, was elected a Member of Congress. Today, all of these companies use sophisticated electronic firing systems, computer design and choreography, and musical synchronization that combine pyrotechnical beauty with state of the art technology.






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