Staff Photo by Thomas J. Turney                                                        Dan Terryberry (right) and Bernie Blystone cut wood, Saturday, July 3, 2010 to be used as part of the framework for the firework tubes for the July 4, fireworks display in Elizabeth City.
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Staff Photo by Thomas J. Turney Dan Terryberry (right) and Bernie Blystone cut wood, Saturday, July 3, 2010 to be used as part of the framework for the firework tubes for the July 4, fireworks display in Elizabeth City.

Ready, set, boom! Big show just what doc ordered

By William F. West

Staff Writer

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Dr. Daniel Terryberry and Bernie Blystone began shooting fireworks together because they always liked things that go boom.

The pair, which for a dozen years had been putting on a fireworks show at Newbegun Landing, this evening will instead be putting on the fireworks show in Elizabeth City.

The fireworks will be launched at 9:10 p.m. from a barge on the Pasquotank River between the Pelican Marina and the Elizabeth City Shipyard. The show is expected to last roughly a half-hour.

“Believe me, the fireworks will grab everyone’s attention because this show will clearly be bigger than anything Elizabeth City has ever seen,” Terryberry told The Daily Advance. “That’s a promise from both Bernie and I.”

Blystone said that the process of setting up the show is quite labor intensive, with all day Saturday and most of today needed to set everything up. And Blystone noted all day Monday would be needed to do the cleanup.

Blystone said Thursday evening that probably 200-300 mortar racks were being stored in his shed for transport to Elizabeth City. He noted some of the mortar racks weigh 30 pounds to probably 60 pounds each.

The mortars will be hooked up electrically to a computer box, which will be used to fire them off, Blystone said. Terryberry said he and Blystone do not have stage fright.

“The sheriff estimated we had almost 2,000 watching us last year,” Terryberry said of the show at Newbegun. “It was a big deal down here.”

Blystone said that there are some who were disappointed that the show will not be at Newbegun Landing, but that he believes they will go to the show in Elizabeth City.

Blystone is in the physical therapy business; Terryberry is a physician.

Blystone noted he and Terryberry for the past decade have had the largest non-municipal fireworks show in the nation.

“And this show is going to be two-and-a half times bigger than what we did down here,” Blystone said.

Terryberry and Blystone had decided to take a break from doing the show this year before Elizabeth City officials approached them about doing a show in the city because of the financial crunch locally.

The Jaycees had put on the fireworks show in Elizabeth City until 2004, but there was not a fireworks show in 2005 because of safety and scheduling issues.

From 2006-09, the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Tourism Development Authority was the sponsoring agency for the fireworks show.

Terryberry additionally noted last year’s accident at Ocracoke on the Outer Banks resulting in the deaths of four people and in state legislation making it difficult for licensed pyrotechnicians to do a fireworks show.

Terryberry and Blystone had to take a training course. Terryberry also spent an extra couple of days going to Raleigh, taking paperwork back and forth so he and Blystone could be licensed pyrotechnicians.

And because the fireworks is going to be penetrating air space, “we’ve had to get clearance from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Coast Guard,” Terryberry said.

Terryberry said the state legislation “really put us behind the eight ball a bit because we all had to be licensed and none of us could even begin to speak to the Coast Guard until we had our license.

“And our license wasn’t even obtained until June 8,” Terryberry said, noting responsibility for certifications in the state were placed in the hands of a small number of people, resulting in backlogs.

Terryberry and Blystone agreed to provide their services for this year’s fireworks show in Elizabeth City for free, provided they are reimbursed for the cost of the fireworks.

During the Potato Festival in May, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Parks and Recreation Director Bobbi White found out that she and her staff would be in charge of the fireworks show.

The anticipated cost of the event is $29,000, with the city and Pasquotank County each having contributed $8,000.

The cost of the fireworks is $24,000, with the rental of the barge from Elizabeth City Shipyard costing $2,000 and the rest of expenses to cover items such as portable rest rooms and bouncing houses, White said.

White, when asked for a fundraising update Friday afternoon, said, “We have deposited 22,000 and some-odd dollars.” She said there is at least another $5,000 in pledges that have not been deposited.

Asked whether she has been putting her heart and soul into the event, she said, “Oh my God, yes.”

“And it’s just been about an everyday thing, too,” White said of the organizing and procedures involved.

But she said, “Everyone has been wonderful, absolutely wonderful to work with. I cannot thank them enough.”

White said that she has never seen Terryberry’s and Blystone’s show, but that, “With $24,000 of fireworks, it’s going to be a lot of glowing in the sky.”

For safety reasons, White is asking spectators not to bring bicycles, pets and skateboards.

Contact Bill West at bwest@dailyadvance.com

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