BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Like a mad scientist working away at his creation, Anthony Lang, with J&M Displays, spent the sweltering summer day on a barge in Biloxi's Back Bay running wires and loading giant plastic tubes with mortar shells.
His interest in professional fireworks displays has been going strong for decades, and his passion is evident.
"There's no other show that's bigger. The City of New Orleans is only a $31,000 show," said Lang.
According to Lang, Biloxi's show, put on by the Boom Boom Committee, is a $38,000 show, and it's loaded. Around 2,000 shells, all of the classic booms, cracks, sparkles, and bangs, and a few new tricks thrown in.
One of the new tricks is something that Lang has been putting in his shows for a few years now. He calls it a cake, but it looks like a magnified version of a firework that you could find at a roadside stand.
"It will shoot all the shells. It will shoot 48 shots," said Lang.
The shots go out over the water and then shoot into the sky from there. The rounds that will be making the biggest booms are loaded into their tubes.
This six-inch shell will display a slow falling burst called a willow. While the six-inch diameter shell is pretty impressive, it's not the biggest. There's an eight-inch diameter shell. It's about the size of a bowling ball, and it packs a punch, but it isn't even the biggest shell on this barge.
Lang uses a 10-inch diameter shell for some of the show. It's just slightly larger than a basketball, and according to Lang, it's the most powerful explosive that can be shot without a dynamite classification.
Lang choreographs the show to a pre-produced, 22-minute segment of patriotic tunes that will play on a local radio station. He puts his heart and soul into the planning, and he says it's all worth it.
"Out of all the shows, this is my favorite show, because of the people, because of the size, the location," said Lang.
All of that combines for a dazzling, unforgettable experience. Biloxi's fireworks display lights up at 9 Tuesday evening near Deer Island. One of the best places to watch will be on the beach between Oak St. and the small craft harbor.