Crazy Joe’s has it all, including this 6-foot tall Godfather assortment pack. (l-r) Marcia Gallagher, Sherry Gallagher Siscoe, and cousins Jessi Bursovsky and Nick Siscoe.
Since 1967, Crazy Joe’s has been a booming business
By Kathy Feist
Fourth of July is around the corner and for many of us, down the road. A trip down Holmes Rd. past 150 Hwy brings a slew of fireworks tents. One tent, however, is the granddaddy of them all. Crazy Joe’s, started by Joe and Marcia Gallagher, has been a mainstay at 171st and Holmes since 1967. Over the years it has grown from a tiny tent under the Snead’s Bar B-Q sign to a 240-foot long tent housing over 1000 kinds of fireworks.
A Tour de Force
What’s most impressive about Crazy Joe’s is not just the large number of fireworks available, but the way it is so well organized. Fireworks are sorted by type and alphabetized. Dozens of semi trailers, each loaded with specific fireworks, sit near the tent, allowing helpers to efficiently run back and forth refilling sold products.
Owner Sherry Gallagher Siscoe gives us a tour of the tent.
Starting on the northeast side of the tent are the novelty fireworks, such as snappers, tanks, cars, gold fish, chickens, ladybugs, etc. “Stuff to do on the driveway,” says Sisco. They are also the ones most legal and safe for children.
Hundreds of these unique items, followed by fountain fireworks, run the length of half the tent before artillery shells begin to appear. Artillery shells are usually balls of fireworks loaded into a launching tube. Siscoe happily points out the packages of Crazy Joe’s artillery shells. “We get to choose which brand is ours,” she says.
Soon we approach several aisles of multiple effects fireworks. These refer to the kind that shoot out multiple shots from one fuse. We are now at the back of the tent.
As we edge toward the southwest corner, fun packaged assortment packs appear on the scene. Siscoe says that the packaged assortments range in price and appeal. “Anything you can think of, we got ‘em,” says Siscoe. “They can be for little kids or for whole neighborhoods.”
Most impressive are the 6-feet tall assortment packs, known as the Godfather or Big Bang. If the products inside the box don’t impress your party, hauling it inside will!
Rounding the corner and heading back up north are the noisemakers and whistlers, such as the Black Cat Saturn Missiles, which come in multiple shots.
Next are the newest trend: patterned fireworks that make smiley faces, butterflies, hearts, or rings. The newest patterns are floating jellyfish, according to Siscoe.
As we approach the front of the tent, the layout once again becomes more family friendly: sparklers, parachutes, and smoke bombs, which can put out a variety of bright colored smoke, including red, white and blue.
Did I say we were approaching the front? We’re not done yet. Roman candles, firecrackers–specifically Black Cat–and finally, finale fireworks usher us up to the cash registers.
Siscoe, who is 47, has worked at the fireworks stand all her life. She was joined by her siblings and cousins.
“It was so much fun. For two weeks there would be 20 of us cousins sleeping on my parents’ floor,” she recalls.
Now her two sons and their cousins help run the tents.
In 2009, Siscoe’s father Joe Gallagher purchased Snead’s. After renting space on its lot for 42 years, he did not get the chance to enjoy it as an owner. He passed away two months after the purchase. Siscoe has since taken over the ownership of the barbecue joint.
Siscoe says that for many families it has become a tradition to shop for fireworks after eating lunch at Snead’s.
Snead’s has been serving pit smoked meats and ribs for 62 years.