The Grucci family of Bellport owns one of the nation’s largest and most successful firework companies, which they’ve operated on Long Island since 1850. Self-described as “the mom of Fireworks by Grucci,” Debbie Grucci offers a remarkable perspective on what it’s like to work with local fireworks experts.
“Growing up in the city, I thought fireworks were lit up with a cigarette, because that’s what I saw people do in the street. Seeing them out here and the enormity of the Grucci family [business] was amazing. It was a life-altering experience.”
Debbie Rodriguez first met members of the Grucci family at age 15 when she moved to Long Island from New York City. By the age of 17, while still in high school, Grucci had already met the man who’d be her future husband, Phil Grucci, and he would introduce her to the world of fireworks. Together they have worked on Long Island ever since.
“We never even thought for one second of moving the company out of Long Island,” Grucci says, “or even out of Bellport because it would mean moving away from a family. This community has always been so supportive of us, always making us feel like part of a family.” Fireworks by Grucci changed locations a few times over the years, “but only by a few blocks,” Grucci confirms. “As we got larger, we had to look for larger and larger properties.” But the company plans to remain on Long Island, which Debbie Grucci says “is the best place to live.”
Though located in one of the most peaceful of places, a career in the fireworks business is anything but calm. “Everyone has a task and there’s constant movement,” she says. “I ‘put out the fires.’ There’s never a moment when you’re sitting in the office waiting for the phone to ring.”
On average, a fireworks display requires five pyrotechnicians. For their largest show, however, which gained the Gruccis the Guinness world record for the largest fireworks display in history, shooting over 472,000 devices within 6 minutes, more than 200 pyrotechnicians were required. “It was so exhilarating,” Grucci remembers.
Fireworks by Grucci can be seen at events throughout the East End. One of Debbie Grucci’s favorite places to visit is “Montauk Point—you just can’t beat that. With the lighthouse, fireworks…that would definitely be number one on my list.” Fireworks by Grucci will again perform the Stars over Montauk spectacular on July 4. In fact, you can see their work across Long Island this summer.
This weekend you may view a private fireworks display by Grucci at the 12th annual Beach Ball benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area, on Saturday, June 20. Held on the Great South Bay at the bayfront home of Alexandra Lebenthal and Jay Diamond, The Beach Ball will feature live and silent auctions focused around “The Art of Summer.” Host committee members include Dana Buchman, Francisco Costa, Lucy Danziger, Isabella Rossellini, Bob Morris and Keith Pollock.
Shot over the bay, the fireworks at the Beach Ball are “so close and in your face. It’s a personal event,” says Grucci. “This is such a fun place, such a fun event, and the fireworks are the perfect addition.”
“The nice thing about this program,” Grucci adds, “is that we have about 10 pyrotechnic shells that we have built for the show.” Used as a sponsorship tool, Grucci sold these shells to the show’s spectators, who then gave Grucci a request of what kind of display they would like to see and what they are dedicating the shell to. When the shell goes off in the show, it will match their request, and the sponsor will also go home with the empty shell as a gift.
“Once that show goes off, you can hear everyone screaming, it brings you back to your childhood,” Grucci says.
Advance tickets for the Beach Ball are $150 and tickets will be available to purchase on the night of the event for $175. Proceeds support the Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area, which serves young people from disadvantaged economic, social and family circumstances. Visit bgcbellport.org for more information.