18,000 Fireworks to Launch - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

18,000 Fireworks to Launch

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BILLINGS - Move over Santa Claus -- Uncle Sam is the mascot of a nearby town's favorite holiday.

The Fourth of July weekend is almost here, and the Laurel fireworks show is nearly ready to fire off.

"In Laurel, the Fourth of July is bigger than Christmas," said Brian Dennis, Laurel Volunteer Fire Association President. "I hate to say that, but it really is."

About 20 volunteers spent all day in the heat, staking down 5,000 tubes to hold firework shells. Dennis said the crowd can expect a top-notch display, with new additions to the soundtrack, and a few other surprises.

"Its always been great, but this year we have new guys on the music, and new guys doing the planning, and they've got some neat concepts," Dennis said. "It's going to be a spectacular show."

The 65th year of the massive display is truly a family affair. Volunteers, with the help of their families, have spent nearly every night over the past month preparing the show.

"All 45 (volunteer firefighters), plus our family, plus retirees are involved," he said. "It's a big group that puts this thing on, and makes this thing go."

Event chairman Kent Kulesa said they'll spend most of Independence Day filling the tubes with 13,000 firework shells.

"And then we'll have another probably 5,000 shots in our cake boxes," he added.

The show begins just after dark at about 10 PM at Thompson Park. The LVFD reminds visitors to leave all personal fireworks at home.

Dennis adds that making plans earlier in the day is a good idea, as cell phones often stop working due to the massive amount of people in the park.

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