Random musings on an out-of-town fireworks show

Saturday, June 3, 2006


It's currently 10:10 am on a Saturday and I'm writing this in a Whistler, BC hotel room after going to bed at 2:30 this morning and waking up around 8:00 - which may not sound like a lot of sleep but for me, actually isn't bad. Coffee definitely helps, though.

It's been a long few days, and I thought you might like to know the sort of effort that goes into a fireworks show. This show was done for a private company function and while it was using "family fireworks" (smaller range, less fallout danger, less cost) it was still a bit of a hairy eyeball to put together.

Let's start with Wednesday.

I received a call from a local shipper that there were 10 boxes of fireworks being held for me at their dock; I knew the product was coming so I went to pick it up - which apparently I shouldn't have done because even though I thought it had been agreed that I should get it, I was supposed to leave it there and we would get it when we picked up the rental truck we would use to transport all our gear to Whistler. Oh well, you live and learn.

Thursday: The person who was supposed to get the rental truck was over on Vancouver Island working on a film set and ended up getting back later than expected, which meant that he had to have somebody else get the truck and head out to pick up some additional fireworks that had been ordered from a second supplier - this meant that the boxes I'd picked up were still sitting at my house until 9:00 pm, which meant that we didn't get to the warehouse to start show prep and truck loading until 10:00 and, of course, it was raining.

Um, let me rephrase that - it was FUCKING RAINING LIKE THE PROVERBIAL FLOOD.

We prepped until about 12:30 Friday morning, at which point we went home to get some sleep with an 8:30 am call time to head for Whistler.

Friday: Between the road construction within Vancouver and a couple of delays on the road (blasting, etc.), we didn't arrive on the show site until noon, an hour later than expected. Of course, it started raining as soon as we arrived but it came in fits and spurts - sometimes a light rain but more often than not, more torrential downpour. Fortunately we had the use of an outbuilding, the back of the 1-ton truck after we unloaded most of the gear, and a folding 10-by-10 foot canopy that I'd recently bought (Hey, when Linens-N-Things is selling them for $80 CDN, you grab one!).

We were working until around 4 before we stopped for lunch, fortunately I had placed a couple of energy bars in my kit - I ate one and gave one to a co-worker (Nice working with you again, Ed!).

End result - 5 separate firing positions, 65 cues over 6 minutes, about 20 boxes of fireworks, set up and wired in with about 10 minutes to spare (9:50 pm, to be exact). A few duds, but a great show nevertheless and the client was very pleased.

By the time we finished teardown and put away it was midnight and we were getting hungry again - however, being the off-season it was difficult to find a pub with an open kitchen. We ended up having a drink at one place and then heading to "Food Alley" (an unofficial name for a sort of fast food strip mall) to get something to eat.

(Fun Trivia Fact: if I drink a pint of Rickard's Red on an empty stomach after working 8 hours straight, it's a challenge for me to be able to sign a credit card bill in a dimly-lit pub.)

For the record, I can say that "Four 'n' Twenty" is a great place; they make all sorts of sweet and savoury individual pies. I had a Steak & Mushroom and a Steak, Cheese and Potato pie and they were very yummy.

After that it was time for bed; while we had rooms booked at a local hotel, we knew we'd be checking in late so we had called to warn them - however, their reservation system cancelled the rooms after midnight so the desk clerk had to re-enter the information. A couple of us took advantage of the free wireless access to check e-mail and other things and then, it was time to find our rooms.

So that brings us to the here-and-now; normal checkout time is 10:00 am (WTF?) but we were able to get an extension to 11:00, which is why I am now sitting in my underwear at (looks at watch) 10:30 am, writing this entry and getting ready to check out. We have an after-show site inspection to perform, which should take about an hour, and then it's the long drive back to Vancouver and the unpacking of the van, then back to my car and home for (hopefully) some sleep.