MADISON (WKOW)-- Big changes are coming to the Rhythm & Booms fireworks display in Madison. After 21 years at Warner Park, the annual event has moved downtown . On Saturday June 28th, the fireworks will be launched from the event's new home at Olin Park.
"This is going to be great. This location works so well for getting so many people in and out of the event," Madison Festivals Inc. President Rita Kelliher says.
Organizers of the event have been working hard since February of last year. They have some big shoes to fill as they take over one of the most popular social events in the city of Madison. Attendance for the fireworks display has surpassed 200,000 people numerous times over the years.
"Firework crews came in Saturday night with all of the equipment. They loaded all the racks and things on the barges yesterday. On Monday they'll continue that loading and Tuesday morning the fireworks arrive," Kelliher says.
More than 200 of the biggest fireworks need to be supported in barrels filled with sand so they won't tip over and fall off the 18 barges floating just over a thousand feet off the shoreline of Lake Monona. Organizers consulted with their fireworks team and decided to use 18 individual barges and tie them together instead of squeezing in a few 100 foot barges into the small loading area at Olin Park. The 40 foot barges create a platform that is 240 long and provides more than enough room to launch the fireworks.
"Fireworks were meant to be shot on water. All of the great cities shoot them on water," Kelliher says. "There's an environmental reason for that. It's safer than shooting them on ground and they reflect on the water, it's going to be a beautiful show."
Organizers say parking should be easier with the new location. There are 8,500 designated parking spots across the street at the Alliant Energy Center. Parking in the lot will cost you $7.00 a vehicle and the shuttle to Olin Park will run $2.00 a person. Spectators can also park at one of the downtown parking garages or bike to the event and get free valet service at Monona Terrace.
The funding model for the event has also changed with no money at all coming from the city of Madison. In prior years the bill from the city has been nearly $100,000.
"We have a funding model where one third is coming from sponsors who are wonderful. One third will come from concession sales on John Nolen Drive and then one third we're asking the public to donate," Kelliher says.
Donations can be made by texting "Festival" to 20222. A $5.00 tax deductible charge will show up on your monthly cell phone bill. Organizers are optimistic that this idea will catch on and help them pay for the event.
Spectators will also be allowed to watch the fireworks by boat. Officials will set up a buoy line from Williamson Street to the Olin boat launch. A no wake zone will be in affect starting Saturday afternoon. Residents should be aware that John Nolen Drive will be closed starting at 4:00 a.m. Saturday. That's only for the outbound lanes. The inbound lanes will stay open until 12:30 p.m. so people can get into downtown for the farmers market.
For more information on this year's Rhythm & Booms, click here.
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