Behind the scenes look at Wilmington’s fireworks show

Behind the scenes look at Wilmington’s fireworks show
Updated: Jul. 4, 2019 at 11:55 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Thousands of people will head to downtown Wilmington Thursday night to watch fireworks along the Cape Fear River. Crews with Pyro Shows have been working since Tuesday on a barge to put together the show.

According to Travis Forsyth, a technician with Pyro Shows, the crews match up shells with mortar tubes, then run wires through those tubes. One shell equals one firework. There are 1,800 shells. The company has been preparing for the show for months.

The process of putting together the fireworks got pushed back Wednesday thanks to Mother Nature.

“We had three and a half hours of rain and we had to go in and protect our racks and make sure no water and moisture got down inside the water tubes. If anything did, we had to go in and clean it out, and so that was a little extra time," he explained.

“But, we try to plan as best as possible. When you’re looking at a pop up shower and it turns into a monsoon, that’s hard to plan for,” Forsyth added.

Pyro Shows does firework shows across the Southeastern United States, but Forsyth said Wilmington’s is one of their biggest.

“It’s an exciting job. It’s something that not everybody gets a chance to do and be a part of. It’s a great great honor when you hear you put all this work in and you’re really tired during the day, but the show goes off with a success and you hear all of the cheers of the crowd and it makes it all worth it,” Forsyth said.

This year, Forsyth said there will be a bigger finale than in year’s past. He said it’s a lot of work to make sure things go off without a hitch.

“It’s controlled chaos. That’s a good way to put it because you’re watching as the person who’s pulling the triggers for each one of the shells. You’re watching a stopwatch to make sure that all your cues are being fired on time. You have spotters making sure everything on deck is going on ok," Forsyth said.

City leaders said they set aside about $35,000 each year for the fireworks celebration. About $25,000 goes to Pyro Shows, and $10,000 goes to Atlantic Coast Industrial to rent the barge, according to RT Jones with the city’s special events and permitting office.

The company and city had to get several permits for the event and insurance, including fire services permits with New Hanover County Fire, and a marine event permit from the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard and the Wilmington Police Department will have will close the waters from bridge to bridge to boaters sailing through until 30 minutes after the show.

Pyro Shows will work up until about 5:30 p.m. They’ll move the barge to right across from the Battleship around 6:30 p.m to get ready for the 9:05 p.m. start time. The fireworks show won’t go on if there’s lighting and/or heavy winds, according to Forsyth and Jones.

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