Fireworks expert lights up Lake Barkley on 4th
by Alan Reed
Jul 12, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pat Kramer shows off one of the shells he will use in a nearly $35,000 display at Lake Barkley
Pat Kramer shows off one of the shells he will use in a nearly $35,000 display at Lake Barkley
Fireworks have long been a part of the Fourth of July, along with apple pie, barbecue and ice cream. When families and kids need essential arsenals of bottle rockets, roman candles, sizzlers and sparklers, a trip to Tennessee may be in order. When Lake Barkley State Park needs explosives, they hire a professional.

Pat Kramer of Morganfield, Ky. has been a professional pyrotechnician for over 10 years. “I’ve been shooting fireworks of one kind or another since I was a kid.” He began his professional life in the fire department with his father, moving from extinguishing to detonating as he rekindled his childhood love.

According to Kramer, the Commonwealth spent between $32,000 and $35,000 on this year’s Independence Day program. The inventory included 120 three-inch, 59 four-inch, 64 five-inch and 68 six-inch shells launched from mortars buried in the beach, 27 ground boxes of massed pyrotechnics provided sustained explosions for a few minutes and a remarkable 140-shot finale capped the show.

“The finale will be something. I’ve never done a 140-shot finale before. This is the largest show I’ve ever done. I feel like I am shooting a Cadillac into the air,” Kramer said.

Kramer ignited most of the fireworks with a road flare at the end of a pipe. The ground boxes provided rapid-fire detonations, and were ignited with the touch of both ends of a single d-cell battery. Only 1.5 volts of power were needed to launch an entire array at once.

To enter his profession, Kramer had to purchase a license and submit to fingerprinting and a background check. He also said there was about a four month waiting period to obtain the permit.

With safety a concern, the East Golden Pond Volunteer Fire Department stood by to extinguish any mishaps, though Kramer said that they were rare.

“He’s caught his hair on fire every year, but that’s about it,” teased his mother Marilyn.

For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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