SEBASTIAN, FL - Stanley Pratt is retired - officially, at least. The former Head Pyrotechnic Engineer and creator of Disney's EPCOT Center Illuminations - a nightly fireworks show - left his professional life behind last spring and moved to this quiet Treasure Coast town to enjoy his golden years.
Unfortunately for his family, Pratt just can't let go of his profession.
The self-proclaimed "Gordon Ramsey of Pyrotechnics" ruined what should have been a magical fourth of July for his family. On the morning of our nation's independence, the Pratt family welcomed home their son from his second tour of duty in Iraq and also celebrated their daughter-in-law becoming a United States citizen. Pratt's fourteen year-old grandson, Kirk, used money saved from three months of allowances to purchase the items needed for what would be a spectacular fireworks show in the driveway of his grandparent's home.
Kirk led his autistic younger brother, Tommy, and aided his trembling hand in lighting the inaugural firework.
"NO! NO! NO!," screamed Stanley Pratt. "You can't start off your show with a Screaming Soldier! What is this, amateur hour?!"
Tommy, confused by the combination of fireworks, shouting, and his older brother's tears, immediately went into a state of shock, tensing up and refusing to move or speak. After being rolled inside on a hand-truck, it would be more than an hour before his muscles relaxed.
Once Pratt was calmed by his wife and persuaded to just enjoy the effort, his grandson wiped away his tears and executed the next fireworks in his program.
Bottle rocket. Smoke bomb. Black cat.
With the lighting of each firework, Pratt's rage intensified until finally he exploded upon the lighting of a sparkler.
Pratt screamed, "THIS IS THE WORST CHOREOGRAPHED PYROTECHNICS EVER!!! YOU'VE GOT NO VISION! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?! YOU CAN'T FOLLOW A BOTTLE ROCKET WITH A SMOKE BOMB! THERE'S NO RHYTHM HERE! YOU'RE AN IDIOT!"
Pratt's neighbors walked back to their homes. His wife, Annabelle, told him he was a monster. Kirk wailed and fled into the nearby woods.
All that remained were Pratt and the unused fireworks. He was ashamed by his behavior, and knew there was only one way to win back his family's love - by putting on the greatest fireworks show in the history of man. And guess what? He did.