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Volunteers Ensure Entertaining, Safe 4th Fest Fireworks

by on June 30, 2014 1:45 PM

It's a blast.

Matt Lindenberg, co-chair of pyrotechnics, says coordinating the highly anticipated Independence Day fireworks show is both fun and rewarding.

"We're providing something that wouldn't be possible without all of the volunteers who come out," he says.

With roughly 30 volunteers for security and 125 for set up, unpaid helpers ensure each year the annual 4th Fest fireworks show staged off of Porter Road near Medlar Field is safe and entertaining. Volunteers give up their time to bring joy to thousands one night a year. 

They began setting up for the elaborate show on June 21 and will continue working right up until July 4.

"It's like a little family. It's like a family reunion when we get together. It's also great to see the public enjoying what we do," says Lindenberg.

Every detail is carefully coordinated, from safety and security measures to protect the public from falling ash to fireworks specifically selected to explode in time with a specially chosen musical scores.

Planning for the music begins right after Labor Day. Lindenberg and other volunteers meet every other week through Christmas to select musical numbers for the score along with fireworks and other effects to match up with each song.

Entirely computerized, two main modules will send signals to firing modules, which shoots specifically positioned fireworks into the sky. Each firework will be strategically timed, down to the size and color, with music played by WBUS 93.7 FM. The score, which will feature music from a variety of genres as well as songs from films and TV shows, is top secret until its debut.

The 45-minute show costs between $50,000 and $75,000 and will feature 149 different types of firework shells with roughly 10,800 fireworks in all.

Kevin Barr, a retired law enforcement official, is in charge of security. It's his job, along with his 32-member volunteer security team, to ensure the public stays at a safe distance to prevent injury from the hot ash that falls from the fireworks.

The "fallout area" is near Orchard Road, Porter Road and the rear of Medlar Field. View a map of restricted areas HERE.

The team set up fences in that area to create a perimeter to keep the public back. Barr says it's important for the public to abide "no trespassing" signs before, during and after the show to ensure their safety – including joggers and dog walkers. The site will not be declared safe until 5 p.m. July 7, once crews have ensure no life fireworks remain in the area.

"It's a hazardous area until all tubes are cleared and we make sure there isn't any live ordnance," says Barr.

The VIP viewing area, which gives members an up-close view of the aerial show as well as ground show, is deemed safe. Spots are available to anyone who purchases a ticket. Last year, roughly 6,000 people watched the display from the VIP area on the east side of Porter Road.

For VIP ticket information, click HERE.

For more information on 4th Fest, click HERE.

Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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