Tuesday, October 3, 2023

World-Renowned Fireworks Company Donates Show for Grand Illumination

Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg
Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

The fireworks company that holds Guinness world records for largest show and largest pyrotechnic image will be offering its services to close out this year’s Grand Illumination festivities.

New York-based Fireworks by Grucci Inc. is providing its world-renowned skills free of charge to Colonial Williamsburg for Grand Illumination on Sunday.

“We are enormously grateful for the company’s generosity,” said Joe Straw, Colonial Williamsburg’s manager of public relations. “Based on the firm’s portfolio, we expect a world-class presentation.”

Fireworks by Grucci, a family-owned company that dates back to the 1850s in Italy, has put on its shows around the world and for major events, including its record-breaking 2013 New Year’s Eve show in Dubai.

It will be the company’s first time working with Colonial Williamsburg, but President and CEO Phil Grucci said he anticipates this year’s show, the monetary value of which won’t be disclosed, will be the start of a lasting partnership.

“The properties, or the stages, for the show offer a very exciting look as far as the illumination of the buildings. It fits right with our style,” Grucci said. “We got really excited about the idea of doing a show there and offered to produce the first show on our dime, if you will, as a donation to this program with the hopes to impress those who watch our unique style of firework entertainment.”

Fireworks will be staged at three Colonial Williamsburg landmarks – the Governor’s Palace, the Magazine and the Capitol – with longtime Fireworks by Grucci pyrotechnician Larry Goetz in charge of the show.

“Those buildings are the perfect backdrop for the performance. What we did in the design of the show is to tie it right into what’s in the name of the event, the Grand Illumination,” he said. “There will be a distinct focus on illuminating the buildings, providing that dynamic of elegance without losing the power that’s necessary to entertain.”

Grucci said his company had been eyeing Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination ceremony for years. As firework displays to open the holiday season have grown in popularity, Grucci said he wanted to play a part in one of the nation’s longest running holiday kickoff events.

Grand Illumination festivities began in 1934, two years after the living history museum opened, when candles were placed in the windows of the restored and reconstructed buildings. The celebration has grown over the years, with fireworks eventually becoming a tradition to end the fun-filled day.

This year’s events include a walking tour that provides an insider’s look at the holiday adornments and their preparation, a colonial auction on Market Square and street performances.

A new attraction this year – and open through the end of February – is Liberty’s Ice Pavilion, a skating rink located on Duke of Gloucester Street near Merchants Square.

“It’s a very special time of the year that we love to be a part of,” Grucci said. “Everyone’s in that family frame of mind of coming together to enjoy a wholesome event.”

Grucci said his company, with its long history tied to the American immigration story, feels a connection to Colonial Williamsburg’s devotion to history and patriotism.

“History is very important to our family, but also the future,” he said. “How we use our history and values to teach the next generation is very important to us.”

The fireworks show begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, but events in the Historic Area and Merchants Square are scheduled throughout the day.


2015 Grand Illumination Events – Sunday, Dec. 6

  • The Historic Area opens to visitors at 9 a.m. Sunday.
  • Christmas Decorations Walking Tours run throughout the day, with the first one starting at 9:15 a.m. at the Lumber House Ticket Office. Tours also begin at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • Santa Claus will visit the William & Mary Bookstore in Merchants Square between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. He will take a stroll through Merchants Square between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.
  • The Arts Museums of Colonial Williamsburg will open “A Carolina Room Christmas” at 10 a.m. For the first time, the 1830s North Carolina planter’s parlor is curated as a room scene.
  • “The World Made Small” exhibit will showcase dollhouses and other toys that date to the early 19th century. The exhibit opens to the public at 10 a.m.
  • “Swinging on a Star” in the Hennage Auditorium will highlight local USO efforts during World War II. Shows begin at 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.
  • A colonial auction offers visitors the chance to bid on “rare and one-of-a-kind items” between 1 and 4 p.m., according to a Colonial Williamsburg news release.
  • The Williamsburg Symphonia will present its annual Holiday Pops Concert at 1:30 and 3 p.m. in Kimball Theatre.
  • The Williamsburg Lodge’s Illumination Feast and Festivities offers seasonal food and period-inspired entertainment starting at 3:30 p.m.
  • Grand Illumination begins at dusk with the lighting of street-side cressets and window candles.
  • Four stages – on the Palace Green, Market Square, on the south side of the Capitol, and opposite the Gaol in Nicholson Street – will be set up for performances from various entertainers. Performances by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums begins at 6:45 p.m., and closes out the entertainment portion of the evening.
  • Fireworks begin at 7 p.m. at the Governor’s Palace, the Magazine and the Capitol.
  • After the fireworks show, march with the Fifes and Drums to Botetourt Street
  • Owen Murdock’s Company presents the a family-friendly variety show inspired by the 18th century called “A Grand Medley of Entertainments” at the Kimball Theatre.

Where to Park

Colonial Williamsburg is encouraging guests to park at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center at 101 Visitor Center Drive. A complimentary bus shuttle will bring ticket- and passholders to Colonial Williamsburg. Shuttles depart every 30 minutes between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., making regular stops. Express service to the Governor’s Palace stop is available between 4:30 to 6:45 p.m. Service will not resume until 9:30 p.m. and runs until about 10 p.m.

Where Not to Drive

Those who aren’t guests at the Williamsburg Lodge and the Williamsburg Inn, nor have reservations at Chowning’s Tavern, King’s Arms Tavern or Shields Tavern, cannot drive on the following streets starting at noon Sunday:

  • Francis Street, between North Henry and York streets
  • South England Street, between Francis Street and Newport Avenue

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