CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The state of West Virginia has enlisted the help of the "first family of fireworks" to make sure its 150th birthday party goes off with a bang.
Actually, it will be tens of thousands of bangs.
"This show is going to be amazing," said George Zambelli Jr., chairman of New Castle, Pa.-based Zambelli Fireworks.
The show on the statehouse grounds will actually come in three parts spread over Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights following the 10 p.m. 3-D movie to be projected on the south face of the Capitol.
Each show has been carefully choreographed to a soundtrack of West Virginia music.
The Thursday and Saturday shows will last 12 to 15 minutes while the Friday show will be about 10 minutes.
Fireworks will be launched from the east and west ends of the main section of the Capitol building - above the chambers of the House of Delegates and state Senate. Special pyrotechnic effects will light up the dome, and others will be set off between the columns directly underneath it.
This will be only the second time for fireworks to be shot from the roof of the Capitol, which was completed in 1932.
The company has a lot of experience with shows in Charleston, having wowed audiences for more than a decade with fireworks displays for the Sternwheel Regatta.
Zambelli, the third-generation leader of the family-owned business, said the company was "very proud and honored" to be selected for the sesquicentennial celebration and hopes the show will match the grandeur of the occasion.
"It's going to be a one-of-a-kind show," he said. "We've really put a lot of special effort into this show, and you're going to see that it's really going to show up that way."
If he's right, it will live up to the vision of the state Sesquicentennial Commission.
"We want to have a fireworks show that people will remember," said Chelsea Ruby, the commission's executive director.
"The 150th birthday only happens once . . . we wanted to make it special," she said.
Ruby said the Governor's Office has received several calls in recent months from people who remember how much they enjoyed the state's centennial celebration.
Officials hope to create new memories.
"We wanted to create something that, 50 years from now, they'll be calling the current governor and saying I remember how special the last one was," Ruby said.
The commission solicited proposals from national fireworks firms earlier in the year. Two firms made presentations, and Ruby said the Zambelli pitch was a clear winner.
"Zambelli just presented us with something that was more than your basic fireworks show," she said. "They were more creative and went far above and beyond our expectations."
The Zambelli company has a long history of putting on fireworks shows in America.
The Discovery and National Geographic cable channels have aired features on the family, the their history was documented in Gianni DeVincent Hayes' 2003 book "Zambelli: The First Family of Fireworks; A Story of Global Success."
The company traces its roots to 1893, when Antonio Zambelli brought the family's love of fireworks along with him on the boat from their hometown of Naples, Italy.
For the first few decades, Antonio prepared and shot fireworks as a side business. He would provide displays on religious holidays or the Fourth of July.
His son, George Sr., expanded the business during the 1950s.
"My dad took it in the 1950s from eight shows the week of the Fourth of July to over 800 a year," George Jr. said.
Now 65, he started helping his dad assemble displays when he was 5 years old.
"You grew up in it," he said. "It's a labor of love - it's just in your blood."