No Fireworks This Year

For the past few years, Jenn and I have been involved in running professional fireworks shows on the Fourth of July. It’s a lot of fun, not like anything else most folks have done. We’re taking a break this year, though, for a few reasons.

First,**the recent release of Me 2.0, also known as “my daughter,” has added some complexity to things that wasn’t previously there. She’s a joy, and usually a pretty happy baby, but we can’t have her on-site with us and we want to spend her first Independence Day with her.

Second, and probably more influential in the decision, is the amount of work involved in organizing the whole thing. I don’t think it’s stuff that the crew normally thinks about when they’re on the shoot. When you’re crew, you basically show up, work, shoot, and clean up. When you’re running the thing, it’s a bit more complicated.

You have to go check out the site and make sure things are looking good. Even if you’ve been there before, things change, so checking it out ahead of time, say a week or so before, is pretty key. We’ve run into all sorts of little things that people didn’t think about - gates that may need to be opened, new signs or buildings that weren’t there the year before, that sort of thing. You don’t want to discover that on the day.

You have to go pick up and return the truck. That’s actually not such a big deal, but the place where you pick up and return is not quite an hour and a half out from our house, so you have to set aside some time to go get that thing the night before. Also, driving big trucks stresses me out like nothing else. I am a small car guy. I can’t gauge the size of a moving van for crap, and not knowing where I am in the road, basically, means I’m white-knuckled the whole way. (Jenn doesn’t seem to have any problem with it, so sometimes I make her drive.)

The real pain, though, is gathering a crew. There’s a ton of pretty hard physical labor involved in setting up and tearing down everything, so more people is generally better. I try to get between four and six additional people besides Jenn and I. There are a couple of good friends we have who really dig on this that we know we can count on, but that still means two to four folks need to be found, and those people really need to commit 100% to being there because if they don’t show up, they leave the rest of the crew high-and-dry with a lot of work to do. That’s easier said than done. People, on the whole, fall into one of a few categories:

  • They’re not interested in fireworks. Totally legit.
  • They’re interested, but it’s a holiday and they have other plans. This sometimes comes along with a “next year, I promise” as if there will always be another opportunity.
  • They’ve done the show once, had fun, but it’s too much work to do again. Once was enough.
  • They commit to “definitely, 100%, no question” be there… and then cancel a couple of days before (or on the day). This is my favorite category of people because there’s not enough time to get a replacement person.
  • You ask them if they’re interested and you get no response, like your voice mails and emails were never received.

It’s not just sending out an eVite and hoping for the best. You have to make sure people know what to bring, know where to meet, know when to meet, and so forth.

Honestly, aside from the couple of folks I know I can count on, I’ve pretty much burned through my list of friends and relatives. They all fall into one of the aforementioned categories. None of Jenn’s friends are interested, so there goes that.

I sort of feel like I’m letting folks down - the fireworks company, who are a group of really cool people, and my friends who truly are interested in doing the show - but I just don’t have it in me this year.

I’m going to see how it feels to be on the spectator side of things this year. Maybe we’ll go back to it next year. I have a feeling that I may be done, though. I really haven’t missed fighting the logistics of getting the whole thing set up. It doesn’t always balance out the rush of actually shooting the show.