Behind the scenes with Rhythm & Booms fireworks crew - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Behind the scenes with Rhythm & Booms fireworks crew

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MADISON (WKOW)-- Every year thousands of spectators show up for the annual Rhythm & Booms fireworks display, but very few people fully understand just how much work goes into setting up the big show.

Pyrotechnicians with J&M Displays spent two months choreographing this year's show as they sync their explosions to a musical soundtrack. The sequence features thousands of fireworks that are timed out through a state of the art software program.

"When the show fires, that is being run by three different computers, but it's all one show. It's all integrated as one show," lead pyrotechnician Josh Whiteis says.

Over the years, Whiteis and his team has worked on several displays for Rhythm & Booms, however this is their first time creating a display over Lake Monona. He says the change will create a few challenges for his technicians, but they have a lot of experience setting up shows on the water.

"It's a very different show from Warner Park being out here on the lake. You're really going to have two shows," Whiteis says.

"You're going to have a show up in the sky and you're going to have the show that is reflecting off the lake. No matter where you are it's going to be just gorgeous."

Whiteis says all the fireworks are made out of paper, not plastic, so if any casings find their way into the lake, they float to the shoreline and are easier to pick up. The fireworks are also designed to burn off all the fuel in the air, so the only thing that lands in the lake is ash.

"We do a lot of barge shows all over the city of Chicago, downtown St. Louis. It's just like any other fireworks show, except we're on water," Whiteis says.

Technicians say the show will be the second biggest in the Midwest this year. It's also the second biggest show they as a company will do this season. The ten person crew includes three technicians from Atlanta and seven from the city of Madison. They will be working all week to set up Saturday night's show.

One of the biggest problems the crew will face this week is weather. Each launch tube is fitted with a cap to protect it from the rain. Crew members are also lay masking tape over each tube so they know which fireworks did not go off during the show.

Once the show is over the launch pad will be left in the middle of the lake for at least an hour in case any misfired shells suddenly explode. Crew members say it's a rare occurrence, but they'd rather be safe than sorry.
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