The Eastlake Educational Foundation lit up the night sky at the Olympic Training Center this Fourth of July. However, putting on the fireworks show for the people in attendance was no easy task.
Thomas Sanders, a licensed pyrotechnic operator with Pyro Spectaculars, was the person responsible for making sure the crowd was pleased celebrating the nation’s Independence Day.
At the age of 16, Sanders knew he wanted to be a pyrotechnic operator. He said what inspired him to be one was when he went to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Hunt and saw the special effects used for a Halloween show.
After the Halloween show, he tracked down a special effects guy and asked what it takes to be part of the pyrotechnic industry.
Sanders said a lot of work went into the fireworks show.
“It’s very exciting and its very grueling work as well,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he would start the day in the early morning driving from his home in Nestor to the fireworks plant in Alpine. Once there, he drives a truck filled with the materials needed for the night show to the Olympic Training Center.
When he arrived at the training center, he and a crew of about 13 people unloaded the truck with the explosives.
The Eastlake Educational Foundation’s show was a non-choreographed show, meaning Sanders didn’t have to stick to a script, he was able to make the show the way he wanted it.
“The nice thing of having an unchoreographed show is it gives me a lot of flexibility of how I design my show,” he said. “That’s the real fun and artistic part for me.”
Being that it is unchoregraphed, Sanders said he doesn’t know what type of fireworks he will get until he unloads the truck.
Sanders said he doesn’t know how much money was invested in the 15-minute sky show, but said a show as big as the Eastlake Educational Foundation’s can cost between $13,000 to $25,000.
If the fireworks show were choreographed, he would know the type of fireworks he’d use ahead of time.
Sanders said for an unchoreographed show he gets to speed up and slow down the tempo of the fireworks, choose which sequence of fireworks to launch and decide when to spice things up with a fake show finale.
He said an unchoreographed show gives him plenty of production freedom.
The Eastlake Educational Foundation’s fireworks show was done electrically, a firing control board sets off the fireworks instead of Sanders and his crew having to shoot off the fireworks.
Sanders said it is safer to shoot fireworks electrically.
“The biggest rush is after the show is over and I hear from every direction the cheers from the people,” he said. “It’s such a proud patriotic feeling to provide that much joy to the public, it is beautiful.”
Sanders produced the Eastlake Education Foundation firework show last year too.