Clay County Fireworks Show: “Better Than Disney World”

By Quinn O’Hara

For the past eight years, Vernon McGee and his family have partnered with the Clay Center Chamber of Commerce, which is now Grow Clay County, the City of Clay Center, Clay County, and several area businesses to put on an Independence Day fireworks show like no other.

McGee said he first started putting on yearly firework shows for his grandchildren 30 years ago. Over time, the shows steadily gained a much larger audience.

The result of that partnership, McGee said, has become a roughly 30-minute fireworks display that draws in visitors from out of the county and even out of the state.

McGee said the preparation for the event is extensive, with several business partners, members of his family, and several other volunteers pitching in to make the show a reality. That includes drives out of state to source fireworks, a large catered dinner for volunteers before the show, transporting and staking down hundreds of three, four, five, six, and eight inch tubes and wires, cautiously placing shells in tubes, and cleaning up the aftermath. McGee added that there is a possibility a shell could be set off solely by static electricity, so safety before, during, and after the show is of utmost importance.

Once fully set up on the ballfields of the Clay County Fairgrounds, the first firework is lit just past 8 p.m. on July 3. This year’s show will include: 570 three-inch tubes, each shooting off one three-inch shell every three seconds, 32 eight-inch shells costing upwards of $120 each, 10 finale kegs that shoot off 250-300 fireworks apiece, and much more. McGee estimated that last year’s show shot off over a thousand fireworks alone.

All of this and more goes into creating the yearly firework display which McGee said has been described to him as, “better than Disney World’s.”

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