Fireworks phenom was born on Fourth of July

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Kelly McLain, a research engineer, and the United States share the same birthday.
It was almost natural, her “destiny,” she said, that McLain would design and operate the annual aerial celebration.
“I was born at 9:37 p.m. (July 4), and my father was watching this show at the old hospital,” McLain said.
Since 2002, McLain as been involved in New Mexico Tech’s Fourth of July fireworks display. production testing research on warheads for jets, so fireworks are little more tame.
The $22,000 event, comprised of 500 shells that are about 4 to 8 inches in size from Wolverine Fireworks company, lasts about 20 minutes.
Instead of lighting the fireworks by hand, McLain said Tech has since moved into more modern means of ignition.
“Because it’s an all-electric show, we have to prep and put e-matches into every single one,” McLain said. “It takes most of one day to do that with all the people. Each shell has a mortar to it, and we put them in racks.”
McLain stages the sequence and coordinates the display by size of the shell and specific luster. Putting together the explosive show and organizing it is McLain’s favorite part of running the fireworks.
“Putting together electric fireworks is very safe, and it makes it more of a display,” McLain said. “Pretty much, all you need are hard hats, safety goggles. We also put a barrier around the shells, they’re called flower pots, if they don’t have enough pressure they’ll come out of the shell and just pop. We’ve had that happen.”
The electronic composition also allows McLain to fire off as many fireworks at a time as needed.
The show starts at 9 p.m., and some of the best viewing areas are near where most of the main events will take place during the day near Macey Center, call 575-835-5688 or e-mail dchavez@admin.nmt.edu for more information.
Tech has stated on its website for people not to bring their own fireworks to the concert site.