Fireworks

Boxes and boxes of fireworks were delivered to the Sheltons this week for the big show they'll fire off on July 3. From left are Brandon, Mitch and Jeff Shelton. 

An 18-wheeler pulled up in front of a home in the Shelton family home this week with a most interesting delivery – 58 boxes filled with fireworks.

The Sheltons will use them for their massive July 3 fireworks show on Spring Circle off Spring Creek Drive. The show has grown every year and last year was a display of continuous fireworks for an hour and 12 minutes. 

"The delivery we got this week is just shy of a ton of fireworks," said Mitch Shelton, who describes himself as the family's pyro chief. "It was right at 2,000 pounds."

The show had humble beginnings. In 2010, Mitch spent a few hundred dollars to buy a big load of fireworks to shoot at the family's 4th of July barbecue. A few neighbors watched. 

Everyone enjoyed it a lot. Mitch's brother Jeff Shelton said, "Next year I'll add some money and we'll buy twice as many fireworks."

And they did. 

Pretty soon, Jeff's son Brandon Shelton added funds to what Mitch and Jeff were contributing. The show got even bigger. Then others in the family started joining in and even the neighbors. 

They were buying fireworks retail those first few years. But Mitch got to researching fireworks displays and prices and started buying from a wholesaler. It lets them get much more bang for their buck.

Last year was the biggest show yet. Hundreds of people jammed Spring Creek Drive to watch.

"They were parking at Guntersville High School and carpooling back here," Jeff said. 

37 boats parked on the lake nearby to watch, Mitch said. 

Mike Harding of Horizon Communications videoed the show and put it on YouTube. You can watch it under "Shelton Family Fireworks Over the Lake 2018."

If the city has ever frowned on such a large private display of fireworks, the Sheltons haven't heard about it. 

Mayor Leigh Dollar has attended the show a couple times. Councilman Carson Ray is one of the neighborhood financial contributors to the show. 

The Sheltons hold their display at dark on July 3 so as not to interfere with the city display over Brown's Creek on July 4 every year. 

"It's a good night to have it because most people are off the next day for the holiday and don't have to worry about getting up to go to work," Mitch said.

It takes 10 people working full-time to set off the fireworks. It's work. They light everything by hand rather than having an electronic igniter that sets everything off. 

"Last year, I didn't have a dry thread on when we got finished," Jeff said.

There was a lot of smoke with last year's show. Mitch said that adds to the effect. 

"I was wearing my cowboy hat and some people in the crowd told me I looked like Tim McGraw coming out for a concert with all that smoke and the fireworks," Mitch said. 

Mitch carefully arranges "the grand finale" for the big finish. It's all hand-lit too, the 10 shooters working in sequence. 

People from all over Marshall County attended last year. Jeff talked to someone who'd driven from Birmingham to attend the show. 

Rec Center director Matt Bryant told the Sheltons he got a call the other day from someone wanting to know when the city fireworks show is.

"He told them the show is always on July 4 and over Brown's Creek," Jeff said. "The guy said, 'No, this one is on Spring Creek.' Matt said, 'Oh, that's the Shelton family show.'"

The fireworks the Sheltons shoot are all varieties that are available commercially to the public. But they are the biggest, baddest fireworks a private citizen can get. 

Mitch has fallen so in love with shooting fireworks that he's thinking of getting the schooling necessary to become a commercial fireworks shooter.

The neighbors have been supportive of the show just like the city.

"I was cutting grass the other day and one of the neighbors handed me a $100 bill," Mitch said. "He said he wanted to do his part."

Last year, the Sheltons awoke to find neighbor Mark Brickey and members of his family picking up the litter from the show. 

"That's just Mark," Jeff said. "We said, 'Whoa. You don't have to do that. We've got this.'"

If you want to attend the show, you don't have to wait for an invite. The Sheltons say it's just a small way for them to give back to the community and they welcome guests.

"The more the merrier," Jeff said. 

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