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Fireworks enthusiasts learned how to blow the doors off an old car Tuesday at the PGI Convention.

There's a philosophy shared among those who love the world of pyrotechnics: Anything that is part of life is better if you add fireworks to it.

A 1990s Mercury Grand Marquis? Naturally!

Birthday cake? Of course!

Video games? Indeed!

Favorite songs? Always!

A pinata? Si, Senor!

These items were just a few of the things that members of the Iowa Pyrotechnic Association, along with other fireworks enthusiasts from a variety of other state clubs and associations, used this week in Mason City during the annual Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention, which returns to the North Iowa Event Center about every five years.

Tuesday's activities began with a session on how to spectacularly but safely blow up a car for a stunt show or movie. After a few hours of lessons, black powder ignited, blowing the trunk lid and doors off the vehicle.

A little later, another presenter taught children and adults how to make edible cake mines. These are among the most mild of fireworks. The party popper devices, with a little string that emits a small pop and sprays confetti becomes a tool for spraying candy sprinkles on a frosted cake.

Across the street, in another building, fireworks makers used a variety of tools to make fireworks – and to make fireworks interesting. Along with the more traditional shells, balls, rockets and mines, one fellow was beginning to fill a pinata with fireworks.

“I am going to blow it up Thursday night,” he said.

Then on Tuesday evening, the members gathered in the grandstands at the I35 Speedway to watch the latest creations of their peers. The Iowa pyros, including Chuck Yedlik and other area fireworks experts, created a show using a variety of songs, from the mellow “What a Wonderful World” to some country and hard rock songs.

The Bluegrass Pyro Group, featuring Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio pyrotechnics, created a display that incorporated the images and music from popular video games – from Pong to Mario Kart to Halo – with fireworks matching the colors and shapes familiar to those who have played those games.

Many of the Iowa participants will be in Vinton in two weeks, for the annual Boomtown event. They will not be blowing up cars or pinatas, but will share a variety of fireworks displays, including many that they have created in their own workshops.

Art Show

In addition to the actual fireworks, the participants in the PGI Convention also had a chance to enter an art show, expressing their love of fireworks in the form of photos, t-shirts, quilts, paintings and even a Prom dress. Many local people participated, including retired Urbana City Clerk Shirley Henry, who has made several quilts with fireworks themes.



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