By Krystle Wagner
Bright colors explode in the summer night sky above thousands of residents and visitors gathered in Grand Haven for the Coast Guard Festival’s Fireworks Extravaganza.
Preparation for the nearly 30-minute grand finale begins the day after Coast Guard Festival ends, said Roger Jonas, chairman for the festival fireworks. Throughout the year leading up to the finale, Jonas said he and Brad Boyink each volunteer about 200 hours for the finale.
The show, which costs about $36,000, is funded by Gun Lake Casino, Waterfront Stadium ticket sales and donations made through the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. Pyrotecnico of New Castle, Pa., will shoot off about 5,000 firework shells during the choreographed show.
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Throughout the past year, Jonas has listened to the radio and iTunes, envisioning how songs might fit into the line-up and be choreographed with fireworks. Jonas said the music is deemed appropriate if it can be played on the local radio station.
This year’s show has a mix of popular and classical songs to appeal to a wide audience. Jonas said he feels a tremendous amount of responsibility and takes selecting the show’s music seriously as it draws thousands of people each year.
After Jonas and Boyink finalize the music, it’s off to the firework company six weeks ahead of the show so they can coordinate the shells with the music.
“I’ve never been disappointed,” Jonas said.
Although fireworks will explode high above onlookers, some will also be shot off from the beach across from Waterfront Stadium.
The crew sets up the night before and finalizes the bulk of the items the day of the show.
Jonas said he tries to arrange the music to move through different speeds so the show makes sense if the audience can’t hear the accompanying music, but it’s best to get as close to the show as possible to see the entire package.
“That’s why I encourage people to get downtown as close to the waterfront as possible,” he said.