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For the week of Jan. 5 through Jan. 11, 2000

Ooh, Aah!

Sun Valley rings in New Year with 10,000 fireworks

Express Staff Writer

j5cov3.jpg (12383 bytes)It was a visual and aural extravaganza in stereo.

For 22 minutes straight, the black powder magicians of Pyrotecnico bombarded Sun Valley’s skies with "Titanium Salutes," "Falling Leaves," "Brocade Crowns" and "Bees"—to name a few of the swirling, glittering, booming fireworks that exploded over Dollar Mountain on New Year’s Eve.

Each "kerblam" and flash was digitally choreographed, then synchronized, by cell phone with KECH radio’s broadcast of the themes to Superman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars, as well as to Richard Wagner’s The Valkyrie and other classics.

The 48-year-old owner of the New Castle, Pa.-based fireworks company, Michael J. Fox ("I had it first, the little punk"), coordinated last week’s setup of the 10,000 three- to 12-inch mortars, got the computer on line and made sure setup technicians’ cigarettes stayed clear of the fuses.

Fox, previously the owner of a foundry, bought the onetime manufacturer of military signal flares 20 years ago because, among other reasons, the company had won an award for manufacturing a very low number of duds.

Since then, he has lit up the skies from the Washington Monument to cities in China where he spends six weeks each year overseeing the manufacture of the shells he designs.

Like a renowned chef, Fox doesn’t give away many secrets. His answer to the question, "So what gives your fireworks all those colors?" was: "Chemicals."

How long does it take to set up Idaho’s biggest fireworks display ever?

pyromaniacsHe said there was over a month of planning involved before he even left his office back east. Then at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, he and his 22 pyromaniacs descended like an army on Dollar.

For four days, three snowcats carried 90,000 pounds of tents, explosives, mortars, wire, tin foil, Pepsi and pizza to Dollar’s Hidden Valley.

Then the delicate work began. Technicians carefully placed shells into three banks of mortars extending out along the valley’s ridges, then ran miles of fine red wire up to command central: a PC running "Pyro Digital" software.

"Our computer doesn’t care about what day it is," Fox said, dismissing potential Y2K glitches.

Late Friday afternoon, they were ready to go.

Viewed from Sun Valley Lake, nearly a mile away, viewers agreed the show was spectacular.

"Ooooohhhhh," said one girl, who was so overwhelmed she stopped working on the snowman she was building.

"Yeah!" yelled a man sitting in a pickup. "Yeah! Oh, yes!"

The next day, spent workers collected 36 bags of fireworks debris, loaded up the snowcats and cleared off the mountain.

All told, Sun Valley Co. director of marketing Jack Sibbach said local cities, private contributors and Sun Valley Co. had laid out more than $100,000 for the show.

"It was a hell of a lot of work," he added.


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Copyright 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.