Tight security, new firing system steal show ahead of fireworks display



BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After many described the fireworks show at Canalside during last Fourth of July as ‘chaotic’, those working to plan the patriotic celebration are putting new practices into place to make sure this year runs better.

Skylighters Fireworks – the group which designs and sets up the show seen from Canalside and the Outer Harbor, have a new firing system used to set off the fireworks. During the 2016 celebration, the show ran a little later than expected – starting 45 minutes late after there were technical issues.

“It’s one button, a play button, and the whole show will fire,” said Matthew Shaw, the owner of Skylighters and mastermind behind the display. He spends hours putting together the sequence, syncing it to patriotic tunes.

“We’re trying to reinvent the wheel every year,” said Shaw. “[We have a] wide variety of colors, effects, shooting it from multiple positions.”

The show will be seen by upwards of 30,000 people this year – an estimate higher than last year’s numbers.

“This year, with some municipalities not doing fireworks, this is the place to be,” said Matt LaSota, the executive director at Canalside.

This is LaSota’s first season running the show at the waterfront. One of his first measures as the new executive director — planning for more security during the Fourth of July celebration after crowds rushed out, claiming hearing gunshots during the 2016 show.

To increase security, all patrons heading to participate in the patriotic festivities will have to pass through metal detectors and be patted down. Some items, like selfie sticks and large purses, aren’t allowed inside anymore.

“We’re not looking to ruin anybody’s day – we just want to make sure we know who is in and what’s here on site,” said LaSota.

While his new security crew members are scanning the crowd, the show’s designer will be looking at them too – watching reactions while those in attendance tune out what’s happening around them and turn their eyes to the sky.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world at that time, everybody is here celebrating our independence and not a care in the world – it’s all about the fireworks.”

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