Things I Can't Live Without: Donna Grucci Butler
BY Liz Welch
What dazzles Donna Grucci Butler, maker of some of the world's most spectacular fireworks displays.
President, Fireworks by Grucci
Most kids never get beyond sparklers and smoke bombs, but dazzling fireworks displays are in Donna Grucci Butler's genes. As a teenager, she spent summers helping her mother in the family fireworks plant in Brookhaven, New York. Now 57, Butler is president of Fireworks by Grucci, a fifth-generation business approaching $10 million in annual revenue. The company puts on 250 pyrotechnic displays a year, half of them between mid-June and mid-July. In the summer, Butler hires a few hundred seasonal workers to aid her full-time staff of 25.
Most performances last eight to 20 minutes, with an average of 1,500 shells fired into the air. The Grucci "split comet" shell--a firework designed by Donna's late father, Felix, to explode in a delicate crisscross of golden streaks--is included in every show, be it in Abu Dhabi for the wedding of a sheik's 11th son or at the White House. The company has handled the fireworks for the past seven presidential inaugurations. "Republican or Democrat, they always want fireworks that form stars and flags," Butler says. "Very patriotic."
Longhaired Chihuahua, $1,500
"Chihuahuas are so easy. Baby comes everywhere with me. If you're in the kitchen, she is too. If you're lying down, she's lying down too."
Melissa + Campana heels, $185
"My biggest weakness is shoes. I like the way I look in high heels. My mother always wore them too."
My mother's cooking
"Every Sunday, my entire family goes to my mother's for dinner. Her meatballs are the best."
Murano glass chandelier, $12,000
"My husband and I fell in love with this when we were in Venice for his 65th birthday."
Bain de Soleil SPF 4 sunscreen, $9
"I am every doctor's nightmare. I love lying out in the sun. This sunscreen gives my skin a nice bronze."
...and What I Covet
A Spanish Mediterranean mansion in Fort Lauderdale, about $2.5 million
"I dream of living in the Isles, rows of mansions with personal docks. I could spend my life traipsing between my mansion and my yacht."
Last updated: Jul 1, 2006
LIZ WELCH is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist who has written for The New York Times, Real Simple, Glamour, and Inc., among other publications. She is the co-author with her siblings of the recent book The Kids Are All Right, a highly regarded memoir of her childhood. @lizmwelch