Before The Boom, Crews Prep For Fireworks Show

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The fireworks industry, like many others, is changing thanks to advanced technology. That means those behind the scenes of fireworks shows, like the one in Sioux Falls Tuesday night, have to put in a lot more prep work.

It may seem a bit scattered. Different sized wooden racks holding different colored mortars– the round containers where the fireworks are placed inside. They’re all spread across the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds east parking lot.

“There’s three rows of stations, 18 different shooting areas,” says Reggie Suess. “At any time there could be one to six going off at the same time.”

But everything is strategically placed.

“We have a plan that tells us where this shot lands on this board,” he adds.

Reggie Suess is a lead shooter with Lew’s Fireworks, the company that puts on the fireworks show in Sioux Falls. He says the industry is now computer based. But it wasn’t always this way.

“It used to be where we just line up 60 racks and get four guys out here with fuse-ease and have at it,” says Suess.

Preparation back then only took about six hours before the show. Now a computer spits out a map of where everything needs to go. Then, comes the hard work.

“You put that electric match, attach that to it,” explains Suess. “On the other end, there’s the leads. Those two leads attach to this wires and then they’ll be a cable that hooks up to a module that hooks up to a computer.”

Suess says each mortar has to be hooked up individually. So the 6 hour prep has turned into 6-hour long days of work.

“It’s a long day out here in the heat,” says Suess.

There are benefits to the new technology, though. It’s safer since crews just have to push a button on the computer to light off the fireworks. Another benefit, Suess gets to sit back and watch the show now, along with everyone else.

The celebration event opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday and is free at the fairgrounds. The fireworks will go off at 10 p.m.

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