This week Savannahians will reap the benefits of the state’s recently loosened restrictions on fireworks when the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) hosts its annual convention here.
“You have to have a fireworks friendly state, and Georgia has just become that in the last few years,” says Brent Fisher, owner of Falcon Fireworks, explaining some of what’s required to be host city for the APA’s annual gathering.
Conventions may come and go in the Hostess City, but the APA’s will come with some serious perks:
Two fireworks shows, one of which will be the biggest Savannah has ever seen.
“We’ve been planning just the two fireworks shows for the last six months,” says Fisher, who is the local host for the APA event. “As soon as we finished the 4th of July shows we’ve jumped on this and have been working on it steadily ever since.”
How much bigger could a fireworks show be? According to Fisher, just the finale of Friday night’s show will have as many shells as the entire 4th of July fireworks on the river.
Fisher would know too; the UGA chemistry major has been in the fireworks business for 35 years, and is responsible for shows on the 4th of July, First Fridays and Sand Gnats games, among others.
This performance, however, could be his masterpiece.
“There’s an awful lot of pressure because these are my competitors, my contemporaries, my friends and they’re guys that are probably the most critical audience in the world so far as a fireworks production,” Fisher explains.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Even though the organization is called the American Pyrotechnics Association, its membership is international.
Fisher will be performing for hundreds of the best pyrotechnics professionals in the world, who have travelled from as far as Japan, China and Australia to be here for the convention.
“We represent the creme de la creme of the fireworks industry,” says Julie Heckman, Executive Director of the APA. “We have a following. I get flooded with emails the following week saying, ‘Are you coming back next year? We’ve never seen fireworks like that.’”
Heckman and some APA members decided to capitalize on the popularity of their fireworks shows by making it a charity benefit as well, and this week’s event will be the first time they try out pyrotechnics for a good cause.
Hosted at the Westin, a superlative location for fireworks viewing on the river, Friday night’s event is called “Light Up The Night For Life,” and proceeds will benefit several organ donation organizations, including Donate Life Georgia.
“It was a little difficult trying to figure out what charity we wanted to partner with,” says Heckman. “We had several members who’ve been touched by organ donation, either as organ donors or transplant recipients.”
Although you’ll be able to watch the fireworks from anywhere with a clear view downtown, the $10 ticket to the event at the Westin will include live music from local Latin band Grupo Kachimba, an a la carte tapas menu, and more, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Donate Life and others.
The ticket to the Westin will also give you a front row seat to see some firework displays that have never been seen before — made specifically for this show.
“What we do have is something unique that’s never been seen before,” says Heckman, who wouldn’t say what the big surprise might be.
“We have a number of shells that are being made specifically for this event,” says Fisher. “A lot of the larger shells we’re using are handmade. You wouldn’t see shells like this anywhere else.”
Light Up The Night For Life
When: Friday, September 24, 7–10 p.m.
Where: Westin Savannah Harbor, 1 Resort Drive
Cost: $10 (includes $5 food/bev credit and $5 donation to charity)