Home fireworks displays can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Many people just head to the fireworks store, grab a handful of effects, and go home and light them off. While there is nothing wrong with this, you might be wondering how to kick up your next display a notch. A themed display, like a small-scale version of what the professionals do, is a great choice. But if you have never done one, it can seem intimidating. Here is an easy guide to planning a themed fireworks display.
1. Know the Laws
Every state, city, and county has its own guidelines for consumer fireworks. In some places, almost anything short of an M-80 or a cherry bomb (illegal under federal guidelines) is fine. Other locales have much more stringent regulations. Check the laws for your area before you start designing your show, and be sure to touch base with your homeowners’ association as well.
2. Lay Out Your Site
On graph paper, sketch out the area where you plan to hold your display. Note any dry vegetation or other fire hazards, as well as where the spectators will sit or stand. Decide which direction you will launch bigger fireworks, and place the spectators on the opposite side of the site.
The minimum distance between spectators and fireworks varies by the size of the effect, from 75 feet for small ground effects to 70 feet per tube inch for bigger Roman candles and aerial shells. Use this guideline to determine the maximum effect size you can use in your designated space.
3. Set Your Budget
Fireworks can be an expensive hobby, but there is no need to break the bank. Set a budget before heading to the fireworks store, and make a pledge to yourself to stick to it. If you have the common tendency to over-buy, try taking just the cash you plan to spend and leaving all credit cards and checkbooks at home. If the bill is to be split among several friends, take up a cash collection in advance. Whether you have $100 or $1000 for your display, sticking to your budget will prevent buyer’s remorse or a fight with your significant other.
4. Choose a Soundtrack
A soundtrack is the key to a themed fireworks display. Music evokes a certain mood, which can be enhanced with carefully chosen effects. Without the music, though, your display is simply a collection of pretty explosions. Remember that to build drama, you need the quiet moments just as much as you need surging overtures and hard-hitting beats. Pace your show with plenty of ebbs and flows.
The theme can be anything that you can imagine. Common themes include patriotism, kids’ songs, dramatic movie finales, and even tearjerkers. Use computer editing software to splice a mix that fits the mood you are trying to evoke. When you like the music mix, develop a shooting script with designated fireworks firing times.
5. Attend to Firing Practicalities
The gold standard for a themed fireworks show is a computerized firing system that perfectly syncs the effects with the music, but this is overly complicated and expensive for most home displays. However, small handheld electric firing devices are an excellent choice for those with a moderate budget and some electrical ingenuity. If you plan to hand-fire the effects, make sure you rehearse at least once to get the timing right.
6. Set the Show Length
People’s attention spans have been largely shaped by half-hour TV shows, and 30 minutes is plenty for the averaged themed fireworks display. Any longer, and you risk losing people’s attention unless your staging and pacing are absolutely perfect. Shorter displays, in the range of 15 minutes, are just fine. In fact, it is much better to have a well-paced, attention-grabbing 10-minute display than 30 minutes of uneven, repetitive fireworks launches. Like the old showbiz adage says, always leave the audience wanting more.
7. Choose Your Fireworks
With all of the other factors in place, you are ready to visit the fireworks store. With your budget, musical score, site plan, and show length in mind, you can select just the right fireworks to complete your theme. Visit the store with an open mind. Watch product demo videos and chat with the employees. You never know what new effect might turn out to be perfect for your display.
8. Take Safety Precautions
On the day of your display, walk the designated firing site carefully. Remove hazards and string up caution tape for the audience to remain behind. Ensure that you have a first aid kit, a bucket of water, and either a fire extinguisher or a garden hose with a sprayer easily accessible. If you will hand-fire the effects, consider gloves, safety glasses, and long-sleeved shirts for each shooter. A set of walkie-talkies lets everyone involved with the show easily communicate with each other.
9. Plan for Weather Issues
Of course, you will want your fireworks set up and ready to go well in advance. But what happens if storms roll through before your display? Cover everything with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, zip-top bags, or tarps until shortly before show time. Yes, it can be a pain to uncover everything at the last minute, but it beats trying to dry out and safely dispose of soaked, never-used fireworks!
At Dynamite Fireworks, we don’t only sell top-quality, name-brand fireworks. We also provide the information you need to know to use them responsibly, legally, and safely. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at (219) 937-4090. We look forward to becoming your one-stop shop for all your fireworks needs!