The Bee’s annual firework recommendations are back. Check out the Top 10 for 2019

Our team of interns rigorously rated 24 different fireworks, twice as many as last year. We noted every spark, glitter, ‘Boom’ and ‘Ooh’ to make sure your Fourth of July celebrations will be memorable.

Nine interns headed to the Sacramento Fire Department’s Station 4 last Friday to check out the brightest and most explosive TNT, DFS and Phantom fireworks in the area.

We were greeted with pizza and paperwork. With 10-foot explosions just a few feet away and sparks and smoke flowing in every direction, we armed ourselves with pen and paper.

We left nothing out: You’ll find the name, brand, length and price of each product. There’s detailed comments and, when words failed us, we resorted to doodles and sketches. With the utmost seriousness, we rated the fireworks’ “Boom” and “Ooh” factors on a scale from 1 to 5 to create a comprehensive, meticulous and very scientific guide.

The runner-up with a 5/5 Ooh Score and nearly perfect Boom Score was DFS’ “Retro,” voted the most cost-effective and among the loudest and most aggressive fireworks in the mix.

But nothing could beat the record-breaking, golden favorite “Opening Show” by TNT. For the first time in five years, “Opening Show” received a perfect score, startling half the group and enchanting all.

On behalf of The Bee interns, we wish you an explosive and safe Fourth of July. All ranked Phantom fireworks will be on sale beginning today, June 27, followed tomorrow by DFS products and TNT products on Sunday.

Rated No. 1

“Opening Show”

Manufacturer: TNT

Price: $69.99

Length of Show: 1:50

“Ooh” Factor: 5

“Boom” Factor: 5

What they said: Red rain with red and golden crackles. Green rains with golden crackels, yellow and purple and blue snow pine. Red torch torch effect with titanium rain and crackles full of colorful blobs.

What we said: Opening Show broke all the records with perfect Ooh and Boom scores of 5. This jaw-dropping, four-year favorite will not disappoint. It starts off softly, with charming glitter and yellow sparkly flakes shooting for the stars. But it builds up quickly with sporadic shooting sparks. The grand finale was described as “SOOO BIG!!” It was easily the loudest and most explosive in our very scientific test.

Rated No. 2


Manufacturer: DFS

Price: $20.49

Length of Show: 1:00

“Ooh” Factor: 5

“Boom” Factor: 4.88

What they said: Awesome item. Color, height, noise, all very good.

What we said: One of the loudest and most aggressive explosions, Retro’s sparks reach far up into the sky, producing an alarming, yet thrilling mass of smoke. Retro is an unforgettable act. No shame in coming in second place here.

Rated No. 3


Manufacturer: TNT

Price: $79.99

Length of Show: 2:30

“Ooh” Factor: 4.74

“Boom” Factor: 5

What they said: 500 GRAM FINALE! Silver rain-multi color sparks, silver crackling then Ti whistles-colorful flowers with crackling!

What we said: Allegiance begins with two choreographed bursts, followed by small sparkle clusters of gold. With bright, beautiful shapes and strong showings of height, Allegiance was a “very unique” sight and rightfully earned its place on the podium. Allegiance’s grand finale was a hit that one intern could only describe as “so American.”

Rated No. 4

“Illuminati Triangle”

Manufacturer: Phantom

Price: $39.99

Length of Show: 3:22

“Ooh” Factor: 4.4

“Boom” Factor: 4.6

What they said: Very long lasting! Features, multi-color pearls, sprays, flying stars, and crackle.

What we said: The longest display on our list, the Illuminati Triangle, was described as “the gift that keeps on giving.” Following a low-key start, the display continues with champagne-like whisps alternating between a pure white fountain and far-shooting colors.

Rated No. 5

“Phantom Crown Jewel”

Manufacturer: Phantom

Price: $69.99

Length of Show: 1:25

“Ooh” Factor: 4.2

“Boom” Factor: 4.7

What they said: White flower with color pearl, color fountain crackle. Gold Cherry fountain, crackle with red pearl. 500 Grams of EXTREME sparkle fountain.

What we said: A palm tree of light and fire, Crown Jewel made it to the top five thanks to its wide range of colors and sparkles. An intern said it had “a very very pretty opening and was super bright, very smokey, nice!” Another described it as “loud and screechy, with lots of smoke.”

Rated No. 6

“Peacock Tail Fan Fountain”

Manufacturer: Phantom

Price: $39.99

Length of Show: 0:54

“Ooh” Factor: 4.6

“Boom” Factor: 4.2

What they said: This fun fountain lights up with silver flowers, red, green, and blue stars, finishing with a titanium crackle.

What we said: Phantom’s Peacock Tail Fan Fountain stands out with its feathery feel and fan-like display. The show starts with shooting sparks on two sides, followed by small rainbow-colored streaks. The display comes to a charming end after nearly a minute, “shooting flames like a candle-lit cake.”

Rated No. 7


Manufacturer: DFS

Price: $19.99

Length of Show: 1:28

“Ooh” Factor: 4.38

“Boom” Factor: 4

What they said: Great label, great color. Unique performance, very good item.

What we said: Our interns said Whimsey had a “very Fourth of July feel.” It wasn’t extraordinary, a few noted, but it definitely caught our attention with its blasting white flashes crowned with delicate strings of light.

Rated No. 8


Manufacturer: DFS

Price: $50.99

Length of Show: 2:53

“Ooh” Factor: 4.5

“Boom” Factor: 3.83

What they said: Awesome item. Variety of effects and noise. Great ending. Six sets of crackles, piercing whistles. Great variations of effects.

What we said: Pyrotastic set itself apart with flames of orange and yellow. It also had loud, frequent whistles. It was among the brightest in the mix. “It had a great range,” an intern said, “but no distinct climax.” The ending was unexpected and sudden.

Rated No. 9

“Dragon Tears Fountain”

Manufacturer: Phantom

Price: $39.99

Length of Show: 1:36

“Ooh” Factor: 4.9

“Boom” Factor: 3.4

What they said: Spectacular liquid burn effects with colorful flying pearls, and loud crackling finale.

What we said: Mysterious. Unexpected. Subtle. Dragon Tears Fountain has a very unique charm. Blue and red “tears” of fire shoot out of the box of mysteries like fireballs. “It’s edgy,” an intern said, “and it has a very unique narrative.” The ending leaves the audience in shock, with a pounding sound and blinding sparks.

Rated No. 10

“New York Harbor Fountain”

Manufacturer: Phantom

Price: $69.99

Length of Show: 2:59

“Ooh” Factor: 3.6

“Boom” Factor: 4.6

What they said: Unique, long-lasting 500 gram fountain. Silver and purple sparks fly between whistles and colorful sprays, crackle.

What we said: New York Harbor made the list thanks to its tall flames of red and purple. “Nice ending, I like the noise, nice red, nice sparkle,” an intern commented. However, interns also said that it lasted too long. “It just keeps going on forever,” one said. “You think it’s over but it doesn’t stop,” another commented.

Special thanks to the crew at Sacramento Fire Department, Station 4, in East Sacramento, as well Capt. Keith Wade; fireworks representatives from DFS, Phantom and TNT; and Bee reporters Molly Sullivan, Benjy Egel, Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks and Bee photographer Daniel Kim. The testers were: Caroline Ghisolfi, David Garza, Kyung Mi Lee, Candice Wang, Panchalay Chalermkraivuth, Meghan Bobrowsky, Jaimie Ding, Caroline Ghisolfi and Elizabeth Shwe.

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.
David Garza, from Saint Mary’s College of California, is a Sacramento native. He is an opinion writer with an interest in human relationship stories, and community issues.