Setting up Fourth of July fireworks in Garden City




Despite the fact that it only lasts about 15 minutes, setting up for Garden City's fireworks display is an all-day affair.

Chad Roush, Wichita, along with Travis Webster, Wichita, and Charles Hobbs, Wellington, work with Western Enterprises, Carrier, Okla., and began setting up for Thursday night's fireworks display at the Finney County Fairgrounds early Thursday morning.

"We've been at since about 8 o'clock this morning dropping shells. Came out yesterday morning from about 7 till 1 setting the sandboxes and tubes up," Roush said.

The tubes hold almost 500 fireworks shells that are detonated during the show.

"We've got anywhere from three-inch to six-inch shells to about 340 effects in the finale — 400 some shells for the main part of the show, 460 or so between the three- and six-inch shells," Roush said.

He said that the size of the shells determine the altitude the shell will reach and the diameter of the break, which is the effect seen when a shell reaches its maximum altitude.

"Rule of thumb, for each inch of shell, it goes up 100 feet and can have about 100 feet of break, so three-inch shells go 300 feet, and have up to a 300-foot break and a six-inch shell goes 600 feet (in altitude) and has a 600-foot break," Roush said.

The breaks are named for whatever they most resemble.

"We've got all sorts of different effects. You've got the regular chrysanthemums, you've got some of the fancy patterns, the circles and fish — just random shapes. There are some called octopus. They're called whatever they resemble when they break," Roush said.

Western Enterprises supplies all the necessary equipment and fireworks, including what Roush referred to as a rail that holds 15 queues on it.

"The queue can be a single shot, it can be a chain of shells, just however we wire it up. We just go through each rail and flip the switches then switch over to the next rail," he said, adding that the shells are electronically fired.

He said one of their main focuses is safety.

"We make sure we're not wearing anything that can generate static, since we're dealing with electronically-fired shells and black powder," Roush said. "(During the show), we'll be back about 300 feet, just in case there's ever a mishap."

Roush said they have done a Veterans Day show the last couple of years, and that he has been doing the Fourth of July show in Garden City for several years.

"A couple of years ago, we banned it for the Fourth of July for the drought. It was way too dry. We came back and shot for Veterans Day weekend instead, and that was so popular we turned around and did it again last year, did the Fourth of July and the Veterans Day show," he said. Despite gusty winds Thursday afternoon, Roush said the show would go on.

"Usually by evening it dies down anyway," he said.

The show began at about 9:45 p.m. at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

Prior to that, the Municipal Band played from 8 to 9 p.m. at the West Green of Finnup Park, where people gathered in lawn chairs and at picnic tables to both listen to the band and watch the fireworks display. The band played patriotic marches and Americana music, such as Kansas' state song, Home on the Range. The band also played music from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

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