Fireworks display set to be biggest yet

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— About 1,000 pounds of gunpowder costing more than $22,000 will burn through the sky tonight during Steamboat Springs' Fourth of July fireworks display.

"We have thousands of fireworks," Tim Borden said. "The budget for this show is larger than we've had in Steamboat so far."

Borden, who's an attorney in Steamboat, is a certified pyrotechnician and will shoot off the fireworks.

The bill for the fireworks was divided three ways. The city of Steamboat Springs pitched in $15,000, First National Bank donated $5,000 and a private resident who wanted to remain anonymous gave $2,000, Director of Public Safety J.D. Hays said.

The most spectacular of this year's arsenal are fireworks that are shot out of a 10-inch mortar. Previously, the biggest fireworks shot off at the annual display were explosives that fit in 8-inch mortars.

"These will go a little bit higher up and cover the sky a little bit more," Borden said.

This year's show will be the same length as last year 22 minutes but more fireworks will be packed in.

Around 20 to 25 minutes is the optimum length for a fireworks display before it becomes repetitious, Borden said.

The fireworks will be choreographed with music broadcast on KFMU radio stations (104.1 FM and 105.5 FM).

Borden will time his work by hooking up all the fireworks to a electronic board. Each mortar has a button that will ignite the explosive. Borden will use a headset to listen for taped commands instructing him when to push the appropriate buttons.

For example, when "The Star-Spangled Banner" gets to the words, "...and the rockets' red glare," Borden will receive a command to push the button that ignites the red, rocket-like explosive.

The fireworks were purchased from Pyrotecnico, a fireworks company based in Pennsylvania. The city provided Pyrotecnico with a budget and a tape of the music it wanted the show to be based on. Pyrotecnico then designed the show and recorded the commands for Borden.

"Up until a couple years ago, the city provided the fireworks and the personnel to shoot them off," Hays said.

Hays, who is helping with the display, said the city decided to hire a professional to ensure that it will be a great show.

"Last year was the first time we did this," he said. "It was real successful so we decided to do it again."

Borden took up shooting off large fireworks as hobby 16 years ago. He now owns thousands of dollars worth of mortars and recently bought his control panel for $5,000.

Twelve people have volunteered to shoot off the fireworks, and the city has hired two pyrotechnicians from Denver to help Borden.

"It will be a heck of a show," Hays predicted.

The fireworks will begin around 9:30 p.m. Hays said the best place to sit is near the softball fields at Howelsen Hill. However, he encourages people not to park in that area to avoid a traffic jam.


To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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