MERIDEN — A city pyrotechnician responsible for engineering fireworks shows at the Daffodil Festival and on the Fourth of July is being remembered for his generosity and love of people after losing a battle with cancer earlier this month.
“New England is missing a great fireworks shooter,” said Francis Zygmont, father of Steven "Ziggy" J. Zygmont, who died away on Feb. 6 at age 63.
Steven Zygmont, also a popular automobile mechanic, was owner of Expert Auto Service on Hanover Street, Meriden and handled the fireworks for the city’s Daffodil Festival for over a decade.
The elder Zygmont recalled his son keeping a fake explosives plunger for children to push at his fireworks shows at the moment a coworker flipped the switch to launch the first explosives.
“He said he liked to blow things up,” he said. He joked that his son didn’t have a T-shirt he wore to shows that didn’t have singe marks.
In lieu of flowers, Zygmont asked that those remembering him after his death make donations to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, an organization which runs a summer camp in Ashford for seriously ill children. Beth Starkin, a communications manager for the camp, said Zygmont volunteered at the camp for several years to launch fireworks over their pond for children.
“He was a hero in that aspect,” said Francis Zygmont of his son’s work.
“Steve was an absolute professional,” said Mark Zebora, former Meriden Parks and Recreation Director, who worked alongside him during the Daffodil Festival and Fourth of July festivities. He said Zygmont partnered with the town for fireworks shows for about 15 years.
“His attention to detail was always paramount,” he said. “When he told you a show was going to start at 8:30, it started at 8:30.”
Zebora also remembered Zygmont for his way with people.
“When you talked to him his whole face would light up,” he said, adding that he had countless friends. “Steve was just a wonderful human being.”
At his garage, Francis Zygmont said conversations often turned into lifelong friendships.
“To get to know him was to be his friend forever,” he said, attributing the hundreds of guests at his funeral on Feb. 10 to his amicability.
Steve Oakes, who worked for Steve Zygmont at Expert Auto Service and is now running the shop, believes Zygmont inherited his compassion from his father.
“His family is very loving. His family is like my family now,” he said.
For weeks customers have streamed into the store to remember Zygmont and look at photos of him and “laugh about the crazy stuff he used to do,” Oakes said. “He brought a lot of smiles to the town. He tried his hardest to make sure people had a good time.”