Small town makes big bang as 'fireworks capital of America'

PHOTO: Stephen Vitale, CEO of Pyrotecnico, demonstrates 4th of July fireworks just outside of New Castle, PA: "Fireworks Capital of America."PlayABC News/Michael Koenigs
WATCH Fireworks capital of America: New Castle, Pa.

Every Fourth of July, millions of Americans watch fireworks shows designed in and shipped from a little-known town: New Castle, Pennsylvania.

"We are the fireworks capital of America. We're fortunate to have that name," said Stephen Vitale, the CEO of Pyrotecnico, a fireworks and special effects company headquartered in New Castle.

Italian immigrants began moving to the town in the late 1800s and early 1900s, working in tin factories by day and lighting up the skies at night with their innovative fireworks. Vitale is in the fourth generation to work at the company founded by his great-grandfather Constantino Vitale.

At the town's economic peak, nine fireworks-related companies ran their operations from New Castle.

PHOTO: Stephen Vitale, CEO of Pyrotecnico, is pictured with 4th of July fireworks. ABC News
Stephen Vitale, CEO of Pyrotecnico, is pictured with 4th of July fireworks.

Despite fierce competition from China and elsewhere, the city remains home to two of the largest and oldest fireworks companies in America: Pyrotecnico and Zambelli Fireworks.

Pyrotecnico alone is coordinating fireworks displays in more than 750 cities over this July 4th holiday.

Technicians use computer programs to build second-by-second models of their shows, for holiday celebrations, sporting events and other occasions.

In recent years, Pyrotecnico has designed fireworks and effects for the Democratic and Republican national conventions, the Cleveland Cavaliers' championship celebration and Justin Timberlake's concert tour.