The Foti family tradition of fireworks begins in Messina, Sicily. In the 1800’s the family moves across the strait of Messina to the town of Sinopoli, in the region of Calabria. The photo below was taken in Calabria circa 1936.
Celestino Foti emigrates to Australia. He begins working in a fireworks factory in Menangle Park, on the outskirts of Sydney in New South Wales. At this time he also begins conducting his own displays for the local Show Societies and Sydney’s Italian Communities.
See video from 1975 telling some of this story: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI9R106Krms&feature=youtu.be
Celestino produces the family’s first Sydney Harbor fireworks show when he assisted Muratamaya of Japan. This photo was taken on the display site on Fort Denison.
Celestino Foti at Fort Denison. You can see the mortars on a barge in the background.
By 1969 Celestino Foti, with his son Sam own ‘International Fireworks’, later to be known as Foti International Fireworks. As well as producing fireworks displays, they also become the largest manufacturers of consumer fireworks in Australia, with their ‘Vulcan’ brand of fireworks. The 1960’s and ’70’s was the peak of consumer fireworks manufacturing in Australia. By 1973 the company was manufacturing over 10 million sparklers and 2 million sky rockets per year. The late 1970’s saw the first China imports of consumer fireworks. This marked the decline of Australian consumer fireworks manufacturing. By the mid 1980’s, sales of consumer fireworks as we knew it were all but prohibited in most Australian jurisdications.
Fortunato Foti begins working full-time in the family business. With his grandfather (5th generation pyrotechnician) and father Sam and Uncle Vince (6th generation pyrotechnicians), three generations of Foti work together to continue the family tradition of fireworks.
The Foti boys (1987). From left: Tino Foti, Sam Foti, Celestino Foti, Fortunato Foti, Robert Foti, Alby Payne (family friend and fellow pyrotechnician), Vince Foti.
Foti commence producing indoor pyrotechnics for the productions of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. By 2010, Foti have produced over 50,000 stage effects including flash and smoke pots for Australian and international performances of both productions.
Foti Flame Pots in the Australian production of Phantom of the Opera.
The Foti Manufacturing facility moves to Leppington, in the South West of Sydney.
Foti send their firework manufacturing technology to China. Resurrecting the ‘Vulcan’ brand, high quality display fireworks developed by Foti reach out to the world for the first time. In 2002 Foti trademark the brandname ICON, and ICON pyrotechnics begin to be exported from China to the world.
Foti win their first international fireworks competition at the Stockholm Water Festival. This was the company’s first ever competition, beating established companies from Spain and Italy. This would become the first of many international awards making Foti Australia’s most awarded fireworks company. There most recent award was First Prize at the 2012 StaroBrno-Ignis Brunensis International Fireworks Competiton in Brno, Czech Republic. Foti have produced over 50 international fireworks displays on every continent on the globe.
Foti are asked to co-present Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks by the show’s producer Ric Birch of Spektak Productions. Ric Birch would go on to become the Director of Ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
At Marti’s Balloon Fiesta in the rural New South Wales town of Canowindra, the largest successfully launched firework ever made in Australia is displayed at the end of the finale of the show. The design was a “Silver Kamuro with Multi-shell Pistil”. The shell was made by Sam Foti who trained in Japan to manufacture the shell. The 24inch calibre shell weighed 80kg and took 6 weeks to manufacture.
Foti are awarded the contract as the official Pyrotechnic Consultants, Designers and Suppliers for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
After co-presenting the New Year’s eve fireworks since 1997, Foti are awarded the entire contract for Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks after the contract is put out to open tender for the first time. This capped off a banner year for the Foti family. Foti have produced every New Year every Sydney New Year’s Fireworks display since and will continue to do so until at least NYE2016/17.
The Foti family mourne the loss of the family patriarch Celestino Foti on the 18th June 2001. Right up until his death he was still doing what he loved- making fireworks.
Foti produce all the major fireworks displays in Australia, including Sydney and Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve, Canberra Sky Fire, Brisbane’s RiverFire and Perth SkyWorks.
In 2006 Foti produced 9 displays as a part of the Hong Kong Symphony of Lights show. This was followed up in 2007 by the largest fireworks display ever seen in Istanbul for Turkey’s National Display. Foti have produced Turkey’s national Day fireworks on the Bosphorous Strait and Bridge ever since.
Foti officially opens their new state-of-the-art pyrotechnic complex at Marulan, 2 hours south-west of Sydney. Set on 200 acres it provides an storage facility and a manufacturing capacity unparalleled in Australia. In the same year Foti continue to produce displays Australia wide as well as abroad in Canada, Turkey, Tonga and Germany.
With full integration of the Marulan facility and an ever growing Australian and international display business Foti continues to develop as one of the world’s premiere fireworks, pyrotechnics and special effects companies.
Celestino Foti was one of the few people in the world who could genuinely be classed a Master Pyrotechnician. Having spent all his life making and displaying fireworks, it was his love of fireworks that defined him the most. Being a pyrotechnician was not just what he did for work, it was who he was, and Read more…