PEI

'A bit of a nightmare': Why Charlottetown's fireworks are a day late

The company that produces Charlottetown's Canada Day fireworks says yesterday's heavy rain made it impossible to get the fireworks set up in time. 

'Downpour' on Canada Day made set up too risky, says fireworks company

Staff with Fireworks FX set up fireworks in Victoria Park Tuesday afternoon. The Canada Day display was postponed by 24 hours, after heavy rains delayed Monday's setup. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The company that produces Charlottetown's Canada Day fireworks says Monday's heavy rain made it impossible to get the fireworks set up in time. 

The fireworks display from Victoria Park — one of the largest in the country, according to the city — was called off  Monday and rescheduled to Tuesday night. 

"Yesterday was a bit of a nightmare," said George Wade, the show designer with Fireworks FX. 

"It's awful. I feel terrible about it whenever I have to postpone a display. But it's something I have to remind myself, we have to keep public safety in mind, and my crew as well." 

'Slows down the process'

Wade said he and his crew got to work early Monday morning trying to wire the fireworks, which are set off electronically using a computer. It takes more than about 16 hours to set up a display this size, he added.

Show designer George Wade says wiring all the fireworks in the rain would have been a huge safety risk. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

But he said a morning downpour slowed them down. 

"The only way we can wire in the fireworks is to have the boxes open, the computers open on the ground to wire in," he said. "So when it is downpouring rain we can't bring the electronics out unless we're huddled under plastic, which is also a safety hazard and really, really slows down the process."

The heavy rain eased off in Charlottetown and across much of P.E.I. in the afternoon. And while Wade said it's no problem shooting off fireworks in the rain, rain is a problem during setup.

'Would've been quite terrible'

Some other communities, including North Rustico and Summerside, decided to go ahead with their fireworks while Charlottetown announced at 5 p.m. it was postponing its display until Tuesday.  

'With the time crunch, the show wouldn't have been complete,' says Wade. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"That can be confusing to people," said Wade. "A lot of these small shows on the Island can be set up in an hour. If the rain stops an hour before shoot time, it can be thrown down and put together. This here is two days of setup with electronic equipment — really not conducive in the rain."

Wade said his crew could have launched some fireworks on Canada Day. But with city officials, they decided postponing  a day was the better option. 

"With the time crunch, the show wouldn't have been complete," he said. "There would've been holes in the show that would've been quite terrible. We don't want to see the taxpayers' dollars spent like that."

Some communities' Canada Day fireworks, including Summerside's and North Rustico's, went ahead as scheduled. (CBC)

Wade said while postponing the show does create additional expenses, his company "tries to shoulder it as much as we can."

No one from the City of Charlottetown was made available for an interview. 

Tuesday night's fireworks are expected to go ahead as scheduled at 10 p.m. 

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About the Author

Steve Bruce

Video journalist

Steve Bruce is a video journalist with CBC P.E.I. He landed on the Island in 2009, after stints with CBC in Fredericton, St. John's, Toronto and Vancouver. He grew up in Corner Brook, N.L.

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