Fireworks specialist prepared for tonight

LIHUE — As volunteers scurried to erect tents and make adjustments in preparation for tonight’s Kauai Hospice’s “Concert in the Sky,” fireworks expert Mark Fritzen of Pyro Spectaculars by Souza of Rialto, Calif. carefully surveyed a row of boxes, inspecting their contents against his cue sheet.

There was no rush in his movements as he checked each of the fireworks boxes needed in coordinating what is planned to be a spectacular fireworks show in the skies over Vidinha Stadium. The modules pepper the infield of the Vidinha Stadium baseball diamond.

“This is all high tech,” he said, noting a grouping that indicated at which point in the pyrotechnic show he needed to trigger a volley of aerial fireworks. Unlike operators who stretch the arsenal to fill a certain time frame, Fritzen said the Kauai Hospice people actually send their music to Pyro Spectaculars in California. There technicans syncronize the displays to the songs.

In the planning stage on the Mainland, the choices of fireworks displays are made, and a computer printout is generated for Fritzen to work with. Each grouping is packaged and labelled for him to place and trigger according to cue. This type of show, he said, is labelled a sky concert.

Tonight’s show is set to span about 20 minutes with a spectacular finale, something Fritzen said the Pyro Spectacular company is known for, and takes pride in presenting.

The cue sheet Fritzen works from is color coordinated to make module placement and shell loading easier for the corps of volunteers that work under Fritzen’s close supervision. The bottom line to their effort is that everything goes off safely when the fireworks go up.

The mortars are made of special high density plastic that can withstand explosions of “bad shells” in the unlikely event a fireworks charge explodes on the ground. Fritzen said many pyrotechnic accidents are caused by operators who carelessly use PVC pipes found in hardware stores.

Fritzen is a resident of Maui and is no stranger to pyrotechnic displays having coordinated several past Kauai Hospice Fourth of July shows. He has also operated some of the Ala Moana displays along the south shore of Honolulu. In comparing the Kauai event to those, he said the Kauai show is just a step below being “pyro digital,” the term given to the Oahu shows where computers generate the aerial displays.

“It’s on the same level,” he said, noting that the growth of the Ala Moana displays means computers are now needed to trigger the complex volleys .

“But, on Kauai, the show is still special!” he says.

Gates to the Kauai Hospice’s “Concert in the Sky” open at 3 p.m. and the event is scheduled to end at 9:30 p.m.

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