Setting up Large Firework Displays a Challenging Venture

Cyndi Lundeberg

JACKSON, Tenn. - Choreography and timing may be words more usually associated with a dance routine, but any firework technician knows they are what make a perfect firework display.

Jimmy Stewart said setting up huge firework shows takes a lot of money and man power. "It takes a lot of hard work for a little bit of fun," he said.

Setting up a firework show for something like the Fourth of July is a process that takes hours. Stewart has been working with fireworks for more than a decade and said each firework has to be placed in a specific canister so they will each go off at the right time during the show.

"This is easy. We will shoot this, wired up, we'll just flip switches to shoot this," Stewart said.

Stewart said working with fireworks used to be very dangerous. In previous years he used to have to light a fuse and run. Now he said fireworks can be timed for exactly when to go off and exactly how long to remain in the air.

Firework technicians or shooters said in their line of work there are even people paid to choreograph firework shows. They make sure certain shapes hit certain beats of music and certain times. Stewart said the shooters have headphones to help. One side of the headphones play the show music, the other side give the workers cues when to fire.

"As soon as you shoot your show you hurry up and pull out your ear plugs. So you can hear the crowd yelling. That's what you wanna hear. That's how you know if you put on a good show or not by how loud they yell ," Stewart said.

Those who work with fireworks said every year is a new struggle to make the show different and better than previous years.

Stuart Howell works the grounds at the Ballpark at Jackson and said every firework show is better than the year before. "It's just a great experience!," he said.

Stewart said statements like that make his job all worth while.


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