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Cremation Fireworks a Popular Idea But Hard to Find

While there aren’t many places in the U.S. that offer fireworks memorials, for some families, celebrating a loved one with pyrotechnics is the perfect goodbye.

Cremation Fireworks a Popular Idea But Hard to Find

As the trend toward having new creative and inventive options for saying goodbye to a loved one continues to expand, many people are interested in a colorful sendoff with memorial fireworks, that is, the use of fireworks mixed with cremated “ashes.”

While there have been some famous fireworks memorials, like that for the late “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson, there are very few locations that provide them in the United States.

Nick Drobnis, who once ran a business in the Los Angeles area called “Angels Flight” says he had to close it. He says the regulatory costs became too high along with the permits and the insurance. But Drobnis explained he was able to “make a lot of final wishes come true” while the company was in operation in Southern California.

The practice is popular in the U.K. where two companies, Scattering Ashes and Heavenly Stars, say they receive many requests from overseas but can’t ship their do-it-yourself, self-firing kits to the U.S. because they are created to meet local standards. Lee Beecroft of Heavenly Stars tells Afterall they once had an American family travel to them to get a kit and rent some land for their memorial fireworks show. Richard Martin started Scattering Ashes in 2010 and says he gets many requests from the U.S. but can’t ship explosives.

Who Chooses Cremation Fireworks?

For those who do provide memorial fireworks, they say families often choose the show because the Fourth of July was “Dad’s favorite holiday” or their family member loved fireworks all the time, or perhaps was a veteran.

Jason Diemer, co-owner of the Greenlawn Funeral Home in Springfield, Missouri, says the types of fireworks memorials are as different as the people they represent. Some have held car shows before the fireworks, others have picnics or catered meals. Most families arrive in T-shirts and shorts. They have paid tribute to young and old, with many families traveling from other states to take part. Diemer says the shows themselves look very similar to what you might see at their local baseball games, but the last explosion is the one that holds a small portion of remains, about three tablespoons.

Greenlawn’s Grace Birdwell says the difference is that their displays “pull at the heartstrings more because family members can choose the colors, the fireworks, the songs.”

How Much do Cremation Fireworks Cost?

The cost runs from just under $4,000 to almost $13,000, for a show from four minutes to 15 minutes long called “The Grand Finale.”

Who Offers Cremation Fireworks?

Because state laws about both the scattering of cremated remains and the use of fireworks are complex, there are few businesses in the U.S. that offer fireworks shows with cremated remains. Missouri’s Greenlawn Funeral Home has a unique advantage in having both its own land and a relationship with a nearby professional fireworks company,

It is not legal, safe, or recommended to try to make your own “do-it-yourself” fireworks display, but you can check with local area pyrotechnics companies to see if they offer cremation fireworks.

For now, if you're interested in memorial fireworks, you may consider a trip to Missouri or the U.K.

Celebrating Life

According to Greenlawn’s Manager of Client Experience, Clay Adams, many families see the cremation fireworks as an alternative to a somber funeral thinking, “This is a way that doesn’t have to be a sad thing. It’s a way we can celebrate a life,” he told Afterall.

If you're looking for more unique and creative ways to honor your loved one's memory, check out our article on Thinking Outside the Box: 7 Creative Ideas for Cremation Ashes.