Calgary

4 times the firepower to be unleashed for Canada 150 fireworks display in Calgary

Canada Day celebrations in Calgary will culminate with tens of thousands of fireworks - about 4 times larger than previous years. But a spectacle that size puts a lot of pressure on those trying to pull off perfection - safely.

Show will be 30 minutes in length, making it the longest in the country

A pyrotechnics crew constructs and arranges tens of thousands of fireworks for Calgary's big Canada Day show. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Peter Gebraad has designed fireworks shows for Superbowls and even the Olympics in his 25-year career, but Calgary's Canada Day spectacular will be the largest event he's worked on.

"The firepower is significant, the whole city is going to know it's happening," said Gebraad, PRO FX president, which is working in conjunction with Fireworks Spectacular to create Saturday's incredible display.

Gebraad says the design and construction of the 30-minute show — being synchronized to Canadian hits as far back as 1967 — took weeks to complete.

His 24-member crew recently started putting together the tens of thousands of fireworks off-site. They will finish setting it up at the launch site Saturday.

Fireworks designer/producer Peter Gebraad shows an electronic match used to remotely ignite the fireworks. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The T-shaped display will be lit from the Centre Street Bridge and from scissor lifts along Memorial Drive, starting at 11 p.m. It's going to be three to four times larger than previous years.

"There are a lot of wires, a lot of connections and that's where you rely on your experienced technicians to make sure that the right thing is getting patched into the right clips, otherwise you can really have a bad moment," said Gebraad.

Gebraad's confident everyone, including his staff, will be safe. He says they adhere to the strict rules set out by Canada's fireworks regulating body — the Explosive Regulatory Division — which falls under the Department of Natural Resources Canada.

Patching the right effect to the right clip is key, says designer Peter Gebraad, otherwise the fireworks will burst out of order. (Colleen Underwood)

But he worries whether it will be perfect. And he won't know, until show time.

"I would say it's a fairly stressful job, yeah," he said.

Though the show will be large and long — by comparison, Ottawa's fireworks display is expected to last just over 20 minutes — the show won't be that high.

Most of the bursts will be in the 60-metre range, so the best place to take it all in will be somewhere close to the river.

"This show, because of its scale, because of its complexity and because of all the special things we're doing, I think will be something that people remember for the rest of their life. It's one of those kinds of shows," said Gebraad.

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