Planning for Fourth fun

From left, Trevor, Cody, Chloe and Trenton Phillips with the huge fireworks display that will light up the night on July 4. 

ERIC SPRUILL

For years, Chanute resident Cody Phillips has had an obsession with fireworks. While he works as a safety director for some oil companies down in Texas during the year, come the Fourth of July, he is going to blow some stuff up.

“That’s what is kind of funny about it. I preach safety all year-round, then I take the entire week of the Fourth off to get ready to blow stuff up,” Phillips said. “I love it.”

Phillips has three kids, Chloe, Trenton and Trevor, and the only holiday he has custody of them for the full time is the Fourth of July.

“This is always the only holiday I get to spend with them, so that’s a reason I go all out. If this is it, then I am going to spend several thousands of dollars and make it memorable,” he said.

Since moving to the Tulakes area west of Chanute three years ago, Phillips’ displays have gotten better and better.

“I’ve always gone all out, but when I lived on Main Street in Chanute, there are only so many things you can do,” he said. “When I moved out here three years ago, we put on a 10-minute show. Last year we had a 13-minute show, and this year is going to be 20 minutes.

“It’s like an addiction, honestly. The salesmen are always responsible for it. It’s like if you spend this much more, you get this for free.” 

He orders all of his fireworks from a place in Missouri, and they are the most powerful he can shoot off without having a license.

This year Phillips will be using a Firefly Starting system, which will allow him to set off different displays from an application on his phone. They have three sets of displays followed by the grand finale. Phillips spends several hours fusing the displays together and getting just the right combinations.

He and some friends will clear out a spot on the island on the lake, where they will set everything up. He said the setup process alone takes four to five hours. 

“I have my old dock over here and I am actually going to take it out to the island. Basically I need 26 feet to set it up. I am going to take the more powerful (fireworks) and put them on my dock and actually screw those down to ensure everyone’s safety,” Phillips said. “Some of these can shoot up to 250 feet, and while they are out on the island, if one of those were to fall over or malfunction, it could cause a lot of damage.”

COVID-19 will tame the event this year. In past years, neighbors have provided food, and held yard games and shot off fireworks. 

He said people that know about the display will often park their cars on the side of the road to watch the show.

“At 10 pm, I set the island on fire,” he said. “People may think I am crazy for spending so much time and money on it, but when it’s all over I just lay back and soak it all in. I get a sense of accomplishment from it because it truly is awesome. In my mind, it’s all worth it. My kids think I am borderline crazy when they see all these fireworks. But they also think it’s awesome, because they like blowing stuff up, too.”

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