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Behind The Scenes Of MSUM Fireworks

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Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Thousands will watch the night sky light up at MSUM's Nemzek Stadium.

It's one of the most popular events over the 4th.

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What goes into making the fireworks display is a costly, And timely endeavor.

Here's a look behind the scenes.

This is one of over 320 bombs that will be bursting in the air over MSUM tonight. Making it happen is a meticulous process hours in the making.

It's a well choreographed setup, and it has to be when dealing with these highly explosive professional grade fireworks. These are not the kind you'll find at your local fireworks stand.

"Takes about 8 hours to get everything going," says pyrotechnician Ryan Schatz.

That's just the day of work for RES Specialty Pyrotechnics out of the Twin Cities,

not counting the time at headquarters mapping out just which mortar will go off when.

But they even have setting the show up down to a science. This is the same company that puts on the Fireworks shows at Target Field for the Twins games.

The fireworks are pre-labeled and for the most part pre-wired when they arrive.

Coordinating exactly which cylinder each mortar goes into with a map.

"We go through and put all the shells in then wire them up to boxes then to our control box," says Ryan Schatz.

Every explosive is hooked to an electronic fuse at that control box, so although it's not attached to a computer as some might think, it's also no longer lit by hand.

Since RES is dealing with highly dangerous material that could endanger thousands of lives.... They have to go through a company training course and background check beforehand.

"We fire each shell individually, it's not controlled by a computer or anything. It's all... We choose when it goes and what goes when," says Ryan Schatz.

The cost of your entertainment for such time, training, and danger: Thousands...

"The show this year is about 15-thousand. Ends up costing about 1-thousand dollars a minute," says Ryan Schatz.

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Brian Abel
Brian joined WDAZ in October of 2014, after reporting and anchoring at WDAY in Fargo since October 2013. He currently co-anchors the 6 and 10pm WDAZ News weekdays, and co-anchors the Saturday 6 and 10pm WDAY/WDAZ simulcast news. He was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. Brian has traveled across the country as a spokesperson for the automotive industry. He has also lived in Los Angeles, working in entertainment before pursuing his career in broadcasting. It’s experiences like these that give him a unique perspective when reporting. Brian is a Michigan Wolverines fan with an avid interest in politics and golf.  He is thrilled to be sharing stories with the Greater Grand Forks community working at WDAZ and looks forward to hearing any of your comments, concerns and story ideas.
(616) 821-3062
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