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How a Fourth of July fireworks show is made

DUNEDIN — Fourth of July fireworks start long before colored lights dot the sky and Katy Perry's Firework fades into Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA.

The 20-minute show Dunedin residents will enjoy from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is run by Fireworks Displays Unlimited, a Tampa branch of a Miami-based pyrotechnics company.

Fireworks Displays Unlimited orders fireworks from China a year in advance, even before Dunedin and about 20 other cities sign on for Fourth of July shows, lead technician Kim Wawrowicz said.

Pulling off the $11,000 fireworks show requires collaboration between city officials, the Blue Jays, the fire marshal and Wawrowicz's team. They create a safe environment by inspecting the site and making sure the fireworks are far enough away from spectators.

"It's a lot of fun to get the families and kids out here and on the field," said Janette Donoghue, Dunedin Blue Jays assistant general manager. "It's a lot of excitement."

In Dunedin, the fireworks will launch from the field at Curtis Fundamental Elementary School, right by the stadium, rain or shine. They'll prepare the show as if it will rain, just to be safe, Wawrowicz said.

Only particularly heavy winds could stop the show. That's a change from last year, when the fireworks were launched from the stadium itself and flooding forced a cancellation.

Donoghue's office put together a soundtrack that Wawrowicz's team will synchronize to the explosions. Over 20 minutes, there will be 4,631 explosions. The pace, colors and firework styles of the show vary by city. July Fourth shows are heavy on red, white and blue.

The names of firework styles range from the everyday — rings and comets — to the more absurd, such as flower mines, dragon eggs, horsetails, cloudland fan rows and whirlwinds.

The average show requires at least 20 hours of preparation. That's about one hour per minute of fireworks.

"It's an adrenaline rush," Wawrowicz said. "If you go out there and put on the best show possible, you're really making people happy."

The celebration starts at 4 p.m. with a free Blue Jays game and a Greg Billings Band concert. Fireworks start at 9.

Contact Julie Kliegman at or (727) 445-4159. Follow @jmkliegman.




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How a Fourth of July fireworks show is made 07/03/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:42am]
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