While people throughout the Bristol & Norfolk Senate district are preparing their barbecues, back yard get-togethers and plans to see local fireworks, one candidate for State Senate will be doing what he has done every Fourth of July week since 1996; working day and night to produce the professional fireworks displays that thousands flock to in celebration of Independence day
Paul Feeney, who is running as a Democrat for the open State Senate seat vacated by Senator James Timilty, has worked part-time in the fireworks industry for over 20 years, early on as an apprentice and since 2002 as a lead pyrotechnician, licensed by the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal. A telephone worker by trade, Feeney uses vacation time to devote his full attention to his unique craft. Working for a Boston company from 1996 – 1999, Feeney worked with a crew of over two dozen to put on the prominent Boston show following the annual Pops concert on the Esplanade. Since then, Feeney and his crew, working for a New Hampshire based business have been responsible for producing shows throughout Massachusetts. This year, Feeney will be responsible for fireworks in Acton on July 1st, Haverhill on July 3rd and Wakefield on July 4th.
While Feeney has spent every day in recent weeks knocking on doors of voters, making calls and attending events, there was no question on how he would be spending his time over the holiday. “I have a crew of technicians that rely on me, a company that I committed to and municipalities that are expecting quality displays. I absolutely love this time of year” said Feeney. “I’m a patriotic guy, as is my crew. This is a labor of love for us over the fourth. We will be putting in 16 hour days for each of the three 20 minute displays that we will produce, but the crowd reactions, especially from the kids who tend to be the most appreciative, make all of that work worthwhile.”
Swapping the suit for a hard hat this week, Feeney welcomes the change in pace from a rigorous campaign. “This type of work takes enormous attention to detail, knowledge of state regulations and requires a hard work ethic. For me though, it’s a way to spend some time satisfying my creative side. We try and shoot fireworks in a way that is artistic and pleasing to those in attendance; blending various effects and using timing, color and noise to evoke a response as we build to a crescendo. We know we’ve done our job when the last explosion gives way to the noise of the crowd.”
Feeney currently works as a technician for a telecommunications company and as the Legislative Director for IBEW Local 2222. In addition to his term on the Foxboro Board of Selectmen, Feeney previously served as the first Chief of Staff to Senator James Timilty, a senior campaign official for Congressman Stephen Lynch’s bid for Senate in 2013 and as the Massachusetts State Director for the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign. Paul is 39 years old resides in Foxboro with his wife Laura who owns and operates a licensed family childcare business in the couple's home.
The Special Election is to fill the Massachusetts State Senate seat previously held by Senator James E. Timilty. The district includes parts of Attleboro and Sharon, the communities of Foxboro, Mansfield, Medfield, Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Walpole.