Residents and travelers through the Indiana area today may get a glimpse of the work being done by Indiana University of Pennsylvania students on behalf of a nationwide fireworks industry organization.
Fireworks rockets will occasionally be launched into the skies today while IUP communication media students and representatives of the American Pyrotechnics Association stage the effects needed for production of a safety video for fireworks professionals.
Video production has been under way several days this week and will culminate with a lengthy fireworks show scheduled for about 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Mack Park in White Township.
The fireworks show will go on regardless of rain; however, in case of high winds, the show may be canceled.
In conjunction with the fireworks show, the Indiana Lions Club has spearheaded a charity Fun Fest, including a classic car, truck and motorcycle show, music and refreshments, with the proceeds from the day benefiting the Lions’ charities and the United Way of Indiana County.
About 20 communications media students and faculty are involved in filming the event with 10 cameras covering all angles of the fireworks show, from ground shots to aerials. Filming began Tuesday, with students following pyrotechnic crews from truck loading to show set up to clean up.
“We’ll have cameras all over town,” said Mark Piwinsky, chairman of the IUP Communications Media Department.
Many other IUP students have been involved in the pre-production of the safety video and will be involved in the post-production and editing of the final product, slated to be completed by March.
The project has given students a chance to participate in the technical aspect of producing a professional video project as well as the opportunity to work behind the scenes of a community fundraising event. Many of the Communications Media students have been working on the promotional and logistics aspects of coordinating the Fun Fest in cooperation with the Lions Club. Students have created promotional video ads, radio ads and posters for the event.
The APA, a nonprofit organization with membership of more than 240 professional fireworks companies worldwide, has had safety videos in the past. However, the last video on this topic was produced in 1995, and with the advent of more sophisticated, software-generated fireworks over the years, the safety procedures, terminology and government regulations have changed, APA Executive Director Julie L. Heckman said. “We needed to get into the 21st century,” she said.
The new safety video is intended as an internal training program for pyrotechnic industry professionals and others, including local fire departments, who are involved in the permitting and inspecting of fireworks display sites.
In fact, anyone who is involved with pyrotechnics will be offered the opportunity to see the video, Heckman said, from the people who transport them to government officials who regulate them. “This (video) will be in front of a lot of eyes.”
The APA has expressed an interest in doing follow up videos with the university, which might include more specific topics, such as indoor pyrotechnic displays or transportation of fireworks.
For example, the transportation of fireworks requires certain very specific procedures, such as the proper placement inside the truck in order to avoid shifting and potential hazards on the highway. Trucks must be properly marked with the necessary hazard signs and drivers must confirm their arrival once they have arrived at their destination.
Starfire Corp., of Carrolltown, who recommended IUP for APA’s video project and provides fireworks for the local Fourth of July event, got the Indiana Lions Club involved in the event and have been working on the Fun Fest.
Starfire Co-owner Vince Terrizzi Jr. said as planning progressed on the video, everyone agreed that it would be a lot more fun to have an actual show. “It was like taking a kid to the candy factory and not letting him have it,” he said.
Starfire, which is a family owned company that manufactures, transports and displays fireworks, has provided Indiana’s Fourth of July fireworks for more than 30 years. However, Terrizzi said the fall event promises to be even bigger and better than the Fourth of July.
“Six other fireworks display companies have also volunteered their products and services for the event, making it an unprecedented local fireworks display. It’s been a great effort by all,” he said.
Pyrotechnics companies from all across the country have volunteered their products and services for the event. “Everyone wanted to roll up their sleeves and donate to the community,” Heckman said. “It’s going to be a great show!”
In addition to the APA members and the Boyer and Blair candy companies, sponsors for the event include the Indiana County Fair Board and the Mack Park Foundation.
PHOTO: Communications media professor Lacey Fulton, left, and student Kelly Ekdahl shooting B-roll footage of the fairgrounds while the pyro people wait for the fire department. (IUP/submitted photo)