Monticello’s Riverfest ‘Magic in the Air’ fireworks show is this Friday

The Minnesota-based company responsible for bringing sky-high “oohs” and “aahs” to this year’s Riverfest fireworks celebration has an explosive history.
RES Specialty Pyrotechnics based in Belle Plaine, was founded in 1983. In addition to performing fireworks displays, the company is a manufacturer of specialty pyrotechnics – the type typically used in rock concerts, on cruise ships, at theme parks and sporting venues.
Erv Haman, RES Specialty Pyrotechnics’ director of business development, recently explained how fireworks shows are put together and the show he’s designing for Riverfest 2013.
“We don’t rubber-stamp our shows,” Haman said. “Every show is designed separately for a site or community celebration. You aren’t going to go to the next town and see an identical show.” Haman, a former Becker resident, has been shooting fireworks shows for more than 30 years. He’s shot about seven or eight shows in Monticello, but hasn’t done a recent show locally because RES Specialty Pyrotechnics is growing.
RES won the first place trophy in the Thailand International Fireworks Contest, held last December in Pattaya, Thailand. The competition was held to honor His Majesty the King of Thailand for his birthday. RES Specialty Pyrotechnics (Team USA) and Flashart of United Arab Emirates (Team UAE) were selected as the finalists from teams representing eight different countries, including Thailand, Australia, China, Denmark, Italy, Japan, UAE and USA. The total competitive program spanned over a two-year period, where the various countries provided displays in Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, Thailand.
For the final competition, Team USA and Team UAE provided colorful and dynamic 20-minute displays choreographed to music and fired from two barges in Pattaya Bay. “A lot of the shells we’ll be using in Monticello will be similar to the ones we used in our award-winning show,” Haman said, adding Monticello’s ‘Magic in the Air’ show Friday, July 12, will be a computer-fired show.
Each color in a fireworks burst is the result of a different chemical, Haman said. The colors in fireworks are created by changing the ‘color producing chemical’ in the pyrotechnic star, which are pellets containing metal powders, salts or other compounds that, when ignited, burn a certain color.
These pellets are then added to a ‘lifting charge’ made of gunpowder and provide the fuel to propel the shells into the air.
Whether red, white and blue fountains or purple sparklers, each firework is packed with just the right mix of chemicals to create these colorful lights  Inside each handmade firework are small packets filled with special chemicals, mainly metal salts and metal oxides, which react to produce an array of colors. “We’ll bring 6-inch mortars, our largest, to Monticello,” Haman said.
Riverfest fireworks are sponsored by the city of Monticello. The show will be fired near Eastview Elementary and Monticello High School and last 15 minutes.
“Sunset is the worst time to shoot,” he said. “We tell people its better to wait 15 minutes for additional darkness” Dusk is probably the worst term to use when describing at fireworks time, Haman said, because dusk actually means one hour before sunset. RES recommends that most shows shoot after 10 p.m.
“If you shoot around sunset, all of the blues and golds disappear, and some people want us to shoot right away,” Haman said. “It’s better to have people grumble and shoot later. In the end, they will he happier if they waited.” RES sets up in four or five hours, shoots and tears down in about an hour and a half.
“It’s the salutes in the fireworks finale that really make a show rock and roll,” Haman said. “You design the show to have fireworks go off at different levels in the sky, whether its the 4-inch, 5-inch or 6-inch mortar. You canopy some of them, and put them to the left and right to create many different effects.”

Contact Managing Editor Tim Hennagir at [email protected]