Garden State Fireworks

A Family History


August Santore, the man who started it all in 1890 standing in front of the original work building in Millington NJ

In 1861 Victor Emmanuel II was king of Italy, a regent successful in both war and peace. His Master Fireworker was a man named Capobianco. Whenever Capobianco fired a display, a young man would search the grounds afterward, looking for unconsumed bits of fireworks which he would take home to examine and sometimes reassemble. Eventually, he was able to present the Master Fireworker with a small display using fireworks he had reconstructed himself from the leftovers. Capobianco was impressed and took young Augustine as an apprentice.

Augustine Santore opened his first fireworks plant in New Jersey in 1890 soon after arriving in the United States. His three sons, Nunzio, Charles, and Ralph continued the business until 1973 when Nunzio passed away and his two sons, August and Nunzio, Jr. took over.

August & Nunzio SantoreAs GARDEN STATE’S reputation and the demand for their product has increased, the Santore Brothers, unusual in this regard, have continued to share the actual hands-on supervision of fireworks construction. In time it is assumed that the brother’s children will continue in their footsteps, and that GARDEN STATE will remain a family-owned-and-operated firm dedicated to the same philosophy in manufacture and display: Fireworks expertise, the absolute determination to manufacture the highest quality pyrotechnics, and service to our clients.

Having first become known world-wide for our Italian-style, multi-break “exhibition” shells, we are now major producers of plastic ball shells, quickmatch fuse, exhibition candles, and set piece materials, and we are also major suppliers to many other display firms, including the Disney organization, today the world’s largest consumer of fireworks.

In the early 80’s the Santore Brothers added a new dimension to the fireworks world: a pyrotechnics display perfectly choreographed to a musical score was developed, and soon became the cornerstone of the GARDEN STATE FIREWORKS world-class displays.

Fireworks_22In 1982, GARDEN STATE won the World Fireworks Championship at the international competition in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The following year, 1983, the firm was asked to return to compete against the winner of the five previous years, once again GARDEN STATE was victorious, returning with the International Grand World Fireworks “Interlauriat” Championship, the fireworks world’s highest honor. In a letter from Jaques Quirey, the Director of the Monte Carlo competition wrote, “Your Victory in 1983 was too great for you to come back before a number of years because the other competitors would be afraid of not being able to compete with you.”

In May of 1986, GARDEN STATE won the Silver Jupiter representing the U.S.A. at the International Fireworks Festival at La Ronde in Montreal, Canada.

On August 17, 1991 in San Sebastian, Spain, GARDEN STATE competed against seven other firms from Europe and Australia at the 28th Annual San Sebastian International Fireworks Competition and was voted First Place by nine out of the ten judges! Rafael Aguirre, Director of the competition wrote, “The general opinion of over 200,000 spectators, is that it was the best display ever witnessed in the 28 years of the Spanish competition.”

In response to a request for an encore performance during the 31st Annual San Sebastian 1994 Fireworks Competition, GARDEN STATE took the people of San Sebastian into their hearts and delivered the performance of a lifetime. Mr. Santore was called to the judge’s chambers immediately following the show to receive the First Place verdict, and a standing ovation from the entire jury, The Lord Mayor and his Consulate. The following day, the Department of Tourism received mountains of ballots for the Peoples Popular Choice Award, with the overwhelming response being “Garden State… USA … #1!”