Westerville News & Public Opinion

Rotary plans 'biggest and best' fireworks show ever

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The Rotary Club of Westerville has been in charge of the city's fireworks display since the 1960s, and each year they put a premium on giving onlookers entertainment that they can experience throughout the city.

This year is no different, and organizer Kirk Lawson says the 2014 fireworks display Friday, July 4 will be, "the biggest and best show that we've ever had in Westerville."

Hamburg Fireworks Display Inc. of Lancaster has been the source of the display for as long as Lawson can remember, and he said they contribute to the uniqueness of the celebration.

"The most interesting thing about our shows -- they're not as technically demanding as what you'd see at Red, White & Boom! (where) everything is computerized -- is that we still manually shoot the fireworks," Lawson said. "There are a lot of electric elements involved, but the people we have on the ground from Hamburg ... are very good at what they do."

This year, the fireworks again will be launched from Alum Creek Park South at 10 p.m., ending a day that starts with the Westerville Rotary July 4th 5K Walk/Run at 8 a.m. at Alum Creek Park North, 221 W. Main St., and carrying through the big Independence Day Parade that starts up Street Street from Heatherdown Drive at 1 p.m., concluding at St. Paul Church, 313 N. State St. about 3 p.m.

After years of working with Hamburg, Lawson said he hopes the 2014 display will once more be unique from other shows.

"In our shows, compared to some other smaller towns, you might go to another town and see a lot of the same fireworks over and over again," he said.

"Ours are designed for the public to have to move their eyes to see what's going on. It's like they're choreographing a dance of fireworks in the sky."

In the past, FM radio station 93.3 provided patriotic music to go with the display, but Independence Day sponsor 104.9 the River will be playing the official music to accompany the fireworks, starting at 10 p.m.

Lawson said it's hard to set a rigid schedule for the evening because of the old-school approach.

"Because we don't computerize it and time it out, human beings are involved, so there's no way to give you an exact amount of time," he said, noting that the size of the show, number of shells and timing are all factors. "I like a show that fits in 20 to 25 minutes, but my idea of a fireworks show is that there's action the entire time. I want a power-packed, exciting 20- or 25-minute show."

While the Rotary Club heads up the day's festivities, Lawson made sure to point out that they can't do it alone.

"We could not do this without the incredible effort from the city, and I don't know that we give them enough credit," he said. "Our Fourth of July would not happen without the backing of the city and the help and resources they provide us."

The fireworks have begun earlier than their 10 p.m. target time each of the last two years because of impending weather, and Lawson said this year is no different. While they'll do everything they can to stick to the target, they can't guarantee a launch time until the Fourth.

"Sometimes people don't appreciate it, but we really do the best we can to stick to that 10 p.m. time," he said. "But sometimes it's just not possible."

The weather Friday is expected to be exceptional -- sunny and clear with highs approaching just 80 degrees. No rain date has been set for the activities. Lawson said organizers will announce a rain date for the fireworks show that evening, if inclement weather forces it.

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