REPORT SIX: THE LONG WEEKEND NOVEMBER 2ND - 4TH 2002

Here we go this was some weekend five displays in three days - pyro heaven or what?

First up was Lightcliffe Scouts public display on Nov 2nd. Typical bonfire night weekend rain and lots of it too and then some more.

Setting up wasn't much of a problem if you didn't mind sinking in a muddy field, we had the usual stuff a few racks of various shells the lovely big cat4 cakes and quite a selection of cat3 cakes from the shop to try out too. Everything was set up without a hitch and a rather large crowd was gathering around the bonfire. Time to slip away and invoke the pro firers privilege and get me some free hot dogs before the show.

Sorry there are no photos of the set-up or action as I had my bag stolen after the show and my camera was in there.

This was an ace night (apart from the showers) there was stuff going off all around before we got on with our show.

Eight o'clock came and it was time to fire. The music started up the theme from 2001 very fitting. Portfires were lit and Pete moved in to light the row of strobes at the front, or so I thought remember the bit about me laughing when everyone was woken up by the ground maroon at Dean Clough yeah well this time the tables turned just as I was expecting the flashing of the strobe to light everything up BOOOOM ground maroon!!!! I shot back about 3 feet filled my pants and landed on my arse in the mud much to the crowds amusement (I swear I'll get you back one day for that Pete).


Above: Ground Maroons. LOUD!


Above: Flitter gerbs.

After I regained my composure I got on with enjoying the show. The rain held off throughout the show but some of the cloud was low and obscured some of the shell breaks but other than that everything went well. After the show was over we quickly took all the gear down and got it packed away just as the heavens REALLY opened up it was during this massive downpour that the decision was made not to use the 12"ers in Mondays big show nobody was keen on digging the holes for the mortars in the mud 8(.

SUNDAY NOV 3RD

Next show for the public was to be held at the Hobbit near Sowerby bridge another reasonably sized display for an eager audience.

We got everything set up in the afternoon and then I was left to baby-sit the goodies while the rest of the team disappeared to set up and fire a private display a few miles away. Oh why did they have to leave me, it's cold it's BLOODY RAINING AGAIN. Thankfully it stopped after a short while and as it got dark I had one heck of a night the pub is on the side of a hill overlooking a valley and I was treated to a non stop show of fireworks over the next couple of hours there was kit going off everywhere this was fantastic. I soon forgot about how cold it was and enjoyed a rare treat.

Well Gren and Mick returned ready for firing time we put the cat4 wheel back on the stake Gren lit his portfire and what do ya know it started raining again. Not much to tell about the actual show just that it was enjoyed by all and after the show the landlord invited us back down to the pub. Everything was cleared away it was time for free beer and food top grub on offer here too.

After this we went back to the workshop to load the gear for Mondays big show. Err bloody hellfire shit this was a lot of kit two vans and a trailer load, Grenville asked me to pass him the willow sequence out of a box nearby, I took out three plastic shells, two 3"ers and a 4" Kimbolton gold to blue willows. Can't be much of a sequence with just three shells I thought, oh well never mind I passed them to him and it was time to go home and get some sleep for the day ahead yeah right like I'm going to sleep tonight.


Above: A selection of various shells from the work shop


Above: The 12" wasn't used in the end

MONDAY NOV 4TH 'D' DAY!!!!!!!!

I got up at 5 am to go to work thinking works been slack recently haven't had a job on our press for a couple of weeks I'll be able to get away really early and set up the show. NOOO of all the rotten crap we have to have a job on today (knew I should have phoned in sick).

It was nearly 12pm when I managed to get to the site (Ripponden Bank Fleece) but what a sight to behold when I got there 17 candle racks of 4 or more bars ranging from blockbusters to the mighty 60mm Blue Moon candles around 250 shells ranging from 3" up to 10", 13 massive cat4 cakes amongst these was the monster 100 shot maroon cake this beast was over 2 feet square and weighed over 40kgs and one of the fan cakes was the mother of all fan cakes 180 shot 1.5 feet wide and over 3 feet long!!!! In the front row there were strobes and a dozen flashing thunder barrages along with the mighty 3lb gerbs and a row of 4" mines, which were the only things I got to set up apart from a rack of 3"ers and that was that all, the kit was ready to be blown to bits.


Above: 3" brocade


Above: 3" salute!

Everything was covered we left Mick to baby-sit this time and left for the work shop to load up for the show for a company called JLA down in the valley.

JLA's show was a good sized display for company employees and family. It didn't take much setting up just a lot of waiting around in the cold as Pete checked everything over prior to firing I was asked if I wanted to help fire this show it didn't take me long to make up my mind: "YES!" I said eagerly. I was shaking like mad my portfire looked like a sparkler does when it is waved around I was desperate not to get the timing wrong and spoil the show.

Pete got the proceedings going with a 3" salute whilst I lit the happy stars and Gren got on with the shells. This was ace I'd gone from coming along as a guest months ago to helping fire in a show. I moved on to the candle racks and completely missed the show concentrating on the job at hand that's when I was given a rude awakening from my state of nirvana as one of the blockbusters exploded and threw flaming balls and hummers at me. Bastard thing I HATE blockbusters. When the show was over we collected everything up I scraped my undies clean and we set off for the Fleece. On my way up to the fleece I felt sick I don't know if it was nerves for the show we were about to do or from the one I had just helped fire in anyway my emotions were running high.

THE FLEECE

We arrived to a crowd of thousands that had gathered to watch the imminent show this was great loads of my mates were here and a lot of my family too at last they could all see for real what I'd been rambling on about at them for weeks.

We fought, drove, kicked, punched, stabbed and gunned our way through the masses until we could get through the gate to the field and go do our final checks. The weather was perfect not a cloud in the sky and bone dry we could have used the 12"ers after all - bummer!

The count down began and the music started a ground maroon signalled the start of the show. The strobes were lit then the gerbs and on to the flashing thunders, the effect of so many going off at once was a sight to behold and the music was building steadily as the small bore low key start to the display got underway.

QUE-SIDE STORY

Ok call me sad but there is a reason behind this. As things were building up I could feel tears welling up in my eyes I could have cried my eyes out with sheer emotion as to what this display meant to me.

Two years ago I took my son to see the show at this venue I was told it was good and it was free so I came expecting a decent show. What I got was the best display I'd ever been to I was stunned at how good it was. The day after at work I was talking with a guy who knew who did the display I asked him to give this guy my phone number as this was the thing I wanted to get into.

Eighteen months later and I'm still pestering him to give him my phone number but still to no avail. Oh well I thought I don't need to get in touch with this guy now I thought I'm off to a pro show at Ripponden parish, but it turns out the bloke who came to pick me up on that first day was only Grenville the guy who I'd been desperately trying to get hold of for eighteen months strange coincidence or what.

So this was it: The culmination of two years of patience and excitement. I wasn't watching the best show I'd ever seen I was taking part in it. Words cant describe how this felt it truly was a dream amongst dreams come true.

BACK TO THE SHOW

I was portfire man for this show so I was in and around everything. As the show got underway, the guys started to move back from the low level stuff and Pete lit the double helicopter wheel this was ace as it started to spin it slowly rose into the sky leaving a double helix like trail of sparks behind it, it rose quite high then cut out and started falling back to the ground and then fired up again, slowed its decent and went skywards once more cool or what?


Above: The double helicopter wheel


Above: Another shot of the helicopter wheel showing the double helix pattern.

BOOOOM! The first shell exploded out of its tube and the crowd let out a massive cheer as the main part of the show got under way, there was another huge bang from a 3" salute then a brocade. I knew straight away that this was the rack I filled - I was buzzing big time.

Candles were firing, massive cakes were underway, shells were filling the sky all around was madness and it was all directly above my head awesome awesome awesome then everything went dead??? Willow sequence time, fired all on their own this is where I was in absolute awe at how good those 3 small shells really were. Golden glittering trails with vivid blue tips fired out in every direction the coverage and hang time was stunning everyone fell silent as the magic hung in the sky almost reaching the ground this was met with a massive cheer and oohs and ahhs from the crowd - this is what pyro is all about.


Above: I like the lens flare effect in this one

The show fired up again, Gren reached the end of the first set of racks, five 8" and a 10" chrysanthemum burst all launched together and filled the sky with an unbelievable canopy of beauty (and I thought 8"ers gave off a shock wave when they launched the 10" was a beast it felt like I had been punched in the chest).


Above: Wow!!!

The show continued rocking on the noise was fantastic. Shell break after shell break on and on then all of a sudden the noise was given a kick up the arse by some real noise, the 100 shot maroon cake started blasting holes in the sky. White comet tails to HUGE white spherical bursts that shook your brain nothing can prepare you for standing near this evil monster airbombs are like party poppers compared to this thing.

But like all shows the end was looming. Gren moved on to the finale rack and let rip about 30 shells, 3", 5", 8" and a 10" kamuro shell all fired together everything that had gone before that night was completely blown away by this final sequence every bit of sky above my head was filled with colour from a distance it must have looked like the big bang all over again.


Above: This fantastic shot is of the 10" chrysanthemum shell looks like the death star exploding

And that was it: Huge cheers from the crowd and time to take everything down.

I didn't speak much for the rest of that night I was still in awe at what I had just witnessed and the fact that my patience was a virtue in having had another dream come true after two years of waiting.

Big thanks to SKYBLAZERS FIREWORKS of Sowerby bridge for an absolutely fantastic long weekend.

 

MORE PICTURES FROM GRAHAM:


Above: Various mines


Above: Cylindrical double break shell


Above: Flight rockets


Above: Peanut shells


Above: Green salute


Above: Here's something different this unfolds in to a Chinese lantern while its fired then finishes off with a flame inside to light it up


Above: A plastic shell


Above: Various multibreaks


Above: This is from a different show, a ground maroon going off

 

©2003 UK Firework Review. With thanks to Graham Mann. All trademarks acknowledged.