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Fireworks For New Years Eve

Shoot Like A Pro.

Fireworks For New Years Eve

Pacing your winter show

by: Matthew Kleinmann


With new years eve upon us, it is not too late to work out a fireworks show for the big night.  I have made some comments on winter shows before, but perhaps a brief recap is in order.


  1. Make your show an “all cakes” show and secure it to a pallet that you can drag out to your preferred site just before showtime.

  2. Use an E firing system so you can shoot the show from inside.  Take an upstairs window as your vantage point so you can maintain visual contact with the fireworks and stop the show if anything gets knocked loose or tips over etc.

  3. As much as this and the next point pain me as a pyro lover, go with smaller diameter (lower breaking) cakes.  People will be watching from windows most likely and the field of view will be limited both vertically and horizontally.  You don’t want all the pretty effects taking place up beyond where people can see them.

  4. Make the show a shorter, but faster paced show.  People will have a much smaller attention span gathered around a window in your house than they will spread out on your deck in the summertime for a 4th of July show.

The good news is that you still have time to put this type of show together and the rigging is not hard or expensive.  Cakes save you the cost of racks for mortar shells, and E firing systems are not expensive and will be used over and over again.  You should be able to pick up a shipping pallet, or better yet, siid, for free. You can use anything from sheet rock screws and bailing wire to liberal  amounts of duct tape to secure your cakes in place. Don’t forget to look at your cakes for any placement directions. If a cake has a V shaped fan to it, you want the v to go back and forth across the viewshed, not towards and away from it.

You can set up all of your E matches indoors, but save the final connections to your firing panel until you are outoors and ready to shoot.  Some people put their firing panels under plastic containers to keep rain, show and ashes off of them. Using anything metal may interfere with the wireless radio signals.  You may also want to invest in a new set of batteries for your outdoor firing panels. Batteries reay on chemical reactions to work, and most chemical reactions are slowed down by the cold. 

The cool thing about an all cake show, is in general, most cakes are pretty fast paced.  They do a good job - perhaps too good a job - of keeping the sky lit. You have control of the pacing between them but the show is on autopilot once you have a cake lit.  I tend to like a show with a slower pace where you can actually see what the shells do, but that is standing outside on a nice summer night, not in the winter standing next to a window.   

It is interesting though how many professionals go for a fast pace.  I was watching a show on youtube, and they were launching vollies of multi break shells, only to have the next bunch go up and start breaking before the first bunch finished breaking.  To me this is semi self defeating. To your eyes, things look brighter against a black backdrop, so having things break on top of things breaking is, IMHO a waste, and also, if you mix red, green, and blue, you get white,  And if you send up too many things at once, your brain will average them into white, or a much more washed out and less saturated color. One of the cool things about cakes is in general, their timing is fast, but good, and they do colors really well, they know what is before and after every shell in the cake, so they are generally very well coordinated.

So, you have a few days left to get ready to bring in the new year with lighting up the sky!  Time to get cracking!!!!

Matthew Kleinmann is a licensed pyrotechnician and a staff writer for Mess's Fireworks.