Behind-the-Scenes with Pyrotechnics

July 4, 2007

Reported by: Britney Glaser

The grand finale for the Red, White, Blue and You Celebration is a huge fireworks show that will blast across the Lake Charles lakefront.  Hours of work go into this display of color before you see it, and KPLC went behind the scenes Wednesday with the pyrotechnic crew responsible for the fireworks show.

Inside a large, gray computer box labeled "Lake Charles," is the exact programming for the fireworks show that will light up the lakefront this Independence Day.  Jeff Wickes with Precision Pyrotechnic says, "All of it is timed, and it's programmed to shoot for 15 minutes."

It will be 15 minutes of non-stop blasts, booms, and music - tuned just for this patriotic celebration.  "It should be pretty busy," says Wickes, "no black sky.  Once something is shooting, there will be another charge going, and we just sit by and watch it."

This pyrotechnic crew won't be sitting around, though, until the "dead man's switch," as it is called, is clicked to start the show.  Until then, they're moving boxes, cutting tape and sorting through thousands of fireworks.

Chuck Brown is another pyrotechnic crew member.  He says organization is key to a great show.  "We try to keep the finale stuff in one area," says Brown, "then we've got the other staging area where we put everything else together that we have to squib out and get ready for the show."

This year, organization is taking a bit longer, thanks to this rainy weather.  The crew is working to cover all of the items that will combine for the Fourth's grand finale.  Wickes says, "Since the weather has turned out this way, we're gonna be busy all day underneath the visquien, and we'll just be under there working meticulously, trying to keep all the products dry."

Even with the obstacles this crew is facing, they say the end result is worth all the hassle.  Crew member Phil Troutman says, "You hear everybody clap and the finale goes off, and everybody is happy - it's very rewarding."  Brown adds, "Hearing the oohs and aahs, I just love doing it, it's fun and the fireworks are beautiful."  Wickes also loves the impact that his job has on the hundreds of onlookers each holiday, "It's just a glimpse of what glory is and the glory of this nation."

Now, even if there are still some lingering showers in the forecast, this fireworks extravaganza will be blasting off from the Lake Charles lakefront around 9:00 this evening. Hope to see you there on this Fourth of July!