Saturday, July 6, 2013
The fireworks display put on by the Hood River Lions Club every Independence Day is always a much-anticipated capstone to the Fourth’s festivities.
Though it usually lasts anywhere from 25-28 minutes, the annual sound and light show is always over too soon, with enthralled audiences oohing and aahhing and after the grand finale, cheering for more.
The rockets’ red glare may be fleeting, but the planning period required to put on a successful show is anything but.
Paul Zastrow, a member of the Eyeopeners Lions Club of Hood River, is just one of the dozen or so people involved in putting on the annual display at The Spit — an event he said the Lions have been in charge of for more than 30 years.
A licensed pyrotechnician, Zastrow has been helping with the show for 15 years and as the purchaser of the fireworks for the Lions, his job starts long before the Fourth of July.
“I start getting the order and all that stuff in the first of January,” he said.
The fireworks are bought from Western Display Fireworks in Canby, who also provide the service of organizing the display’s program, which lays out which size shells will go off when and in what number. The program has some input from the Lions though.
“We give them a little guidance,” Zastrow explained. “We don’t want all six-inch shells because we blow through them too quickly.”
The diameter of the shell directly coincides with how high in the sky the blast will occur. With every inch increase in the shell’s size, the ordinance travels another 100 feet in the air. The six-inch shells are the most expensive and the entire display runs about $15,000 and is funded primarily by donations from the community.
“Which is equivalent to if you had people other than volunteers doing it, it’d be about $50,000,” Zastrow noted.
All total, Zastrow estimated about 1,000 volunteer hours are spent on planning, setting up, executing, and cleaning up after the fireworks show. Under the watchful eye of Russ Paddock, chief pyrotechnician, volunteers started setting up at 1 p.m. the day before the show, carefully arranging the racks of tubes used to hold and angle the shells, which were aimed to the north and slightly to the east due to prevailing winds.
Fuses from the rockets were then wired to a panel of switches, which were in turn wired to a master panel of 400 switches, 375 of which were flipped in order to light the fireworks for Thursday’s show.
With each switch that’s flipped, a firework is sent into the air, with each color having meaning as well. Red is produced by iron or strontium, green indicates the presence of chromium, and white means the explosive was packed with titanium, which provides the biggest boom and is, of course, Zastrow’s favorite.
“If you hear something that goes boom big, that’s a titanium salute,” he said.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge