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“It’s their ingenuity, their efforts to please our audience that make them unique.”

Fourth of July Annual Extravaganza, Rockford, Illinois

Illinois Fireworks Display Company
Illinois Fireworks Display Company

Joe Marino, the icon of Fourth of July in Rockford Illinois and Fourth of July committee chair for decades, equates Fourth of July with just one name: Melrose Pyrotechnics. And it couldn’t be any other way.

Sure, Melrose pumps out 4,000 shells in 30 minutes, he says, sometimes with a shell per second in the finale, but numbers just don’t tell the story. “It’s their ingenuity, their efforts to please our audience that make them unique,” says Marino. “They’re so personable, so fun to deal with. We wouldn’t even consider working with anybody else.”

Festivities in Rockford begin with a 90-minute parade. Typical turnout: 100,000 fans. “People camp out to settle in and watch,” says Marino. “Some people line up hours in advance. After all, we’re celebrating the birth of the greatest country in the world, and Rockford it’s the place to be.” Crowds flock to Rockford from Chicago, Indiana, and Wisconsin, all to enjoy the show of the year, he adds.

“Melrose is the reason our show has increased in crowd appeal over the years,” he believes. “We have a reputation throughout the region. Grassroots following is so strong, our celebration goes on year after year with donations—no tax dollars. People want the encore just that much.”

Even the local media are on board. “We work with local radio stations, and interject breaks on air with clips from the Melrose soundtrack. We’ve cultivated a following of even more viewers through local TV. Our local broadcast enables seniors or anyone who can’t get downtown to join in the celebration that nobody wants to miss,” says Marino.

While Rockford is miles from Chicago, the event has captured even the attention of the Chicago Tribune, which ranks it one of the most “crowd-pleasing shows” in the entire state of Illinois. What generates this kind of reputation? “Melrose realizes our focus,” says Marino. “We have a great working relationship. I’ve never seen such perseverance in entertainment quality. Simply put: THE BEST!”

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