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Baseball fans watch a fireworks show after a game between the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. - 

Jeff Horwich: With forecasts of excessive heat, rainstorms, and fire danger, a number of communities are calling off their fireworks celebrations this year. And of course local government budgets have also been under strain lately.

Dr. George Zambelli is chairman of his long-running family company, Zambelli Fireworks Internationale -- one of the biggest fireworks contractors in the world. Thanks for coming by.

George Zambelli: Great to talk with you Jeff.

Horwich: Local budgets are tight, that's no surprise. And don't take this the wrong way -- but fireworks might be seen as kind of a less-than-essential function of government. So, how's business?

Zambelli: Well business is great -- it's booming, actually. Fireworks are Americana; Independence Day is time to celebrate our freedom; so the use of display fireworks is still increasingly. And municipalities and communities are finding innovative ways to put on their display.

Horwich: So what's state-of-the-art? What's the craziest stuff that you can do now?

Zambelli: Well, with fireworks, certainly, being able to fire them with a computer. Recently, we integrated flames in the Peoples Natural Gas Light the River Spectacular in Pittsburgh. And the most exciting feature was a system called Firewater. It's a relatively new system that shoots narrow flames between 10 and 20 feet long that actually replicated the effect of water fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.

Horwich: So that sure beats the way they did it back in the day on the Cuyahoga?

Zambelli: It certainly does. And we're actually incorporating computer chips in the shells to replace time fuse --

Horwich: Computer chips in the fireworks shells themselves?

Zambelli: Right. So there's some interesting things occurring in the industry.

Horwich: Chairman George Zambelli of Zambelli Fireworks Internationale. Thank you very much.

Zambelli: Thank you as well, Jeff. And have a safe and sane Fourth of July.



Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich