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Dazzle and boom: The best fireworks of 2013

Published: Monday, Jun. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1D
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 4, 2013 - 12:22 am

By the end, through the clouds of sulfur smoke and shower of sparks, we all smelled like burnt matchsticks. But that's the serious dedication it takes to judge the latest "safe and sane" fireworks from manufacturers Phantom and TNT. They will be on sale Friday through July 4 around the Sacramento area.

This year marked The Bee's largest judging panel to date, and once again we met in the Arden Arcade area at Station 105 of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, where firefighters treated everyone to a chili dog cookout and a proper all-American good time.

Note that a couple of these fireworks were reviewed in 2012 but were given a fresh look by this year's panel.

Here's how this crop of fireworks fared … boom!

Special thanks to Station 105 of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District. Testers were Tim Swanson; Amy Gebert; Morgan Searles; Kristopher Rivera; Anthony Siino; the Blanco family: Mari, Benny, Victor and Andres; West Donnelly; Suzanne Gibbons; Violet and Phoenix Mayugba; Susannah Fox; Lindsay Shoemaker; Ed Fletcher.

SURF'S UP

$10.99

Manufacturer: TNT

What they say: "Waves roll in at sunset with multicolored effects, titanium rain and crackles."

What we say: "Nice sparks and crackle; a lot of smoke though." "Huge spread of sparks, need to stand far away."

Length of show: 58 seconds

Oooh factor: (out of 5) 3.9

Boom factor: (out of 5) 4.2

Worth the price? Yes: 12; no: 3; undecided: 2


PHLASH PHINISH

$18.99

Manufacturer: Phantom

What they say: "Phantom staff favorite. Big white chrysanthemum pearls ... Gold strobe red & green pearls."

What we say: "In a sea of fireworks that all look the same, this one stands out." "Might make a good finale piece." "So worth the price."

Length of show: 1 minute, 47 seconds

Oooh factor: 4.4

Boom factor: 4.3

Worth the price? Yes: 16; undecided: 1


RECESS

$3

Manufacturer: TNT

What they say: "Playtime begins with white & big silky gold chrysanthemums, red sparks and whistles."

What we say: "It's called Recess, but not even the length of a timeout." "Good for the price." "Low spray but colorful."

Length of show: 19 seconds

Oooh factor: 2.8

Boom factor: 2.8

Worth the price? Yes: 13; no: 3; undecided: 1


EENIE MEENIE MINEY MOE

$9.99 for set of four

Manufacturer: Phantom

What they say: "Value-catch a tiger by the toe! Red, green, blue and yellow chrysanthemums with crackling effects."

What we say: "Too small for $10." "Pint-sized shower of sparks." "Decent color, spray and sound."

Length of show: 45 seconds (all were lighted at one time)

Oooh factor: 3.3

Boom factor: 2.7

Worth the price? Yes: 12; no: 4; undecided: 1


TWILIGHT MAGIC

$9.99

Manufacturer: Phantom

What they say: "Red, green and white crackling with whistling."

What we say: "The tall crackles are great." "Good use of color." "Lots of action."

Length of show: 58 seconds

Oooh factor: 4

Boom factor: 3.9

Worth the price? Yes: 16; undecided: 1


OPENING SHOW

$59.99

Manufacturer: TNT

What they say: "Open your show with 500 grams of multicolored, multifaceted effects. FUNTASTIC!"

What we say: "An opening that'll get people to stay at your party for reasons other than the snacks." "Good finale, (but) lacked a huge surprise." "Great sound and height and color."

Length of show: 1 minute, 58 seconds

Oooh factor 4.5

Boom factor: 4.3

Worth the price? Yes: 7; no: 9; undecided: 1


PEACOCK TAIL

$34.99

Manufacturer: Phantom

What they say: "Silver flowers with red, green and blue stars and titanium finale."

What we say: "Stand back!" "Great show and well worth every penny." "The peacock is one handsome firebird."

Length of show: 56 seconds

Oooh factor: 4.8

Boom factor: 4.3

Worth the price? Yes: 16; undecided: 1


GAME TIME

$39.99

Manufacturer: TNT

What they say: "Like the grand stadiums of yesteryear, Game Time is aroar with crackling effects and colorful effects."

What we say: "Didn't quite bring its A-game." "I was repeatedly hit by sparks. Ow ow ow ow ow." "Really good … just not $40 cool."

Length of show: 1 minute, 36 seconds

Oooh factor: 3.4

Boom factor: 3.5

Worth the price? Yes: 4; no: 12; undecided: 1


RAINBOW RAYS

$5.99

Manufacturer: TNT

What they say: N/A

What we say: "Should be called Christmas Rays. It uses only red and green." "Too short."

Length of show: 44 seconds

Oooh factor: 3

Boom factor: 2.2

Worth the price? Yes: 10; no: 6; undecided: 1


SERENITY FOUNTAIN

$15.99

Manufacturer: Phantom

What they say: "Noiseless fountain. Colored fish, snow flower, blue star, gold pine."

What we say: "Jumping jelly beans of neon flame." "Kids would like it." "Almost better without the screeching whistle."

Length of show: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Oooh factor: 4

Boom factor: 1.6

Worth the price? Yes: 9; no: 6; undecided: 2


Call The Bee's Chris Macias (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.


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