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Sisters continue family firework legacy

By Heather Hintze 7:16 PM July 4, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

They’re not who you might expect to find behind the scenes at a pyrotechnics show, but Meghan and Kylie Clark are right at home in a parking lot filled with PVC pipe and explosives.

“We have a lot of non-verbal communication between us,” Meghan said. “So it limits…”

“… bringing other people in,” Kylie laughed, finishing Meghan’s sentence.

The women are third-generation pyrotechnics. Their company, Alaska Pyrotechnics, has deep roots in the Last Frontier.

James Norene initially founded it as Western Fireworks in the garage of his Mountain View home in 1949.

Kylie said she and Meghan always thought of him as a grandfather. In fact, Kylie said they didn’t even know he wasn’t a blood relative until she was about 11.

Their father, Rodney, eventually bought the company and changed the name to Alaska Pyrotechnics.

Meghan and Kylie took over the company when he suddenly passed away in 2008.

“My dad was exactly the kind of guy you would expect to walk in the room when you hired a pyro,” Kylie explained. “He was a great, big guy. He was a machinist by trade: A big, strong guy with a deep voice and a big beard,” she smiled.

Growing up in the explosives industry, discussions of dynamite dominated the dinner table for the Clark sisters.

“A lot of our stories around the Thanksgiving table were of pyro shows and what worked and what didn’t and the way they used to do it, the way our grandfather did it,” Megan reminisced.

“I don’t know that I would have ever gotten into it if I hadn’t been raised around it,” Kylie chuckled. “It’s just a weird job to have.”

Their father built all the racks and developed the system they still use for all their fireworks shows.

It was sunny and 70 degrees as they set up for the Fourth of July show at Mulcahy Stadium, but in Alaska, the weather’s not always that nice.

Their equipment is made to withstand temperatures of 65-below.

“Be ready for anything. That’s exactly it. We fly all around the state and do shows in some pretty extreme conditions, so we’re really enjoying the weather today,” Kylie said Friday.

Getting ready for the big Independence Day show definitely puts the “work” in fireworks. Megan said it’s all worth it in the end though.

“Hands down, yeah. It’s a great job. Any community we go to people are really happy to see us because we’re the fireworks guys,” she said.

They plan is to be the go-to for fireworks …

“I’m pregnant with my first, so this will be their first show,” Kylie laughed.

… until the fourth generation is ready to light the fuse.

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