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Massena postmaster lights up the county with fireworks this week

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MASSENA - Most days of the year Allan J. LaValley is the Massena postmaster, but this week he’s on vacation — and it’s his busiest week of the year.

Aside from his job with the post office, Mr. LaValley is a fireworks technician who’s been in the business for 18 years. He has been responsible for many fireworks displays in St. Lawrence County over the years.

“My brother got his license, and I worked for him for years at LaValley Fireworks,” he said. “He stepped away from it, I got my license, took over the company and changed it to Northern New York Display Fireworks.”

This week, Mr. LaValley has several shows lined up around the county including one at the St. Lawrence Centre mall at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s a huge show, the biggest one in St. Lawrence County,” he said.

Mr. LaValley said it will be the fourth year in a row he’s done the show at the mall. This year, he’s anticipating the finale to last three minutes, an eternity for firework finales, he said.

Another show Mr. LaValley has been doing for years is the annual fireworks display put on by the Gouverneur Fire Department at the St. Lawrence County Fair Grounds on Thursday.

“Allan’s done nothing but greatness for us,” said Steve Young, chief engineer of the Gouverneur Fire Department. “It’s a $5,000 show but you’d think it was a $10,000 or $20,000.”

Mr. Young said the funding for the annual show comes from donations.

“Not just in Gouverneur but anyone who comes out to the show, we thank people for the support because we couldn’t do this without them.” Mr. Young said. “We need them as much as they need us sometimes.”

Mr. LaValley will also be doing a fireworks show at the Watertown Rams ball field at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds on Friday and a show in Hannawa Falls on Saturday.

Although he does this as a hobby, Mr. LaValley said he tries to make the shows as good as he can with the budgets people have to work with. He gets all of his fireworks from Majestic Fireworks Inc. in Clinton.

Mr. LaValley said he constructs all of his own fireworks racks. The ones he uses for his grand finales are what set his shows apart from the rest, he said.

“These are my own concoction and they separate my finales from my competition’s finales because everybody else uses the same racks,” he said. “It takes up more room to move them around, but it’s well worth what happens when you shoot them.”

Mr. LaValley said that most finales have fireworks blow up in the same spot, but he designs his firework racks with different angles, allowing the finale to be more spread out across the sky.

“My passion is to bring the sky to life with fireworks,” he said. “We really put the ‘grand’ in ‘grand finale.’”

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