Reds and whites, blues and greens, brilliance and booms will delight the eyes and assault the ears at the Casper Events Center and beyond at 10 p.m. Friday, July 4.

Those patriotic appeals to the senses, however, would never arise without James Turman and his mostly family crew working in the dusty prairie north of the Events Center on Thursday morning.

Turman, his wife Sara, their kids and a couple of friends shlepped mortar tubes already lashed into racks, putting five racks into a bank, stacking banks next to each other, and securing the aggregations with metal poles.

The tubes come in 3-inch, 4-inch, 5-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch diameters, Turman said. Besides the impressiveness of the incendiary, the diameter indicates the height to which the mortar will ascend.

While the racks are lined with varying sized tubes, they all end with 3-inch tubes that launch mortars with "salutes," which is fireworks speak for "really loud boom" to let those pushing the buttons on the control board know that that rack is done, he said.

The 8-inch mortars have their own tasty description.

They're called "cakes," which mean multi-shot repeaters that send up huge walls of shimmering light, Turman said.  “We set those off throughout the show."

Friday morning, Turman and his crew will return to load the mortars.

His crew, the local division of the Helena, Mont.-based Big Sky Fireworks, will set squib wires, or small explosive detonators, to tie into the ignitors connected to the tubes. The wiring will run through  the middle of the racks, Turman said.

They will run the main cables at least 100 feet to a safe zone where his crew has a firing box with 12 channels with 12 cues per channel, he said. “So basically with 144 cues we can fire when we need at the right time, and it sets a rack off.”

With the wiring done, they will run a shunt to divert any static electricity, Turman said. “From there, we just run a continuity test to make sure everything’s working, and if it is we’re good to go.”

They also will put tape across the top of the tubes for a post-show inspection, Turman said.

"If the tape’s busted, we know that shell’s gone,” he said. “If it’s not busted, we know we have a little problem and make sure to stay clear of that tube."

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