145. Barrington 4th of July Fireworks, Behind the Scenes

Home Newsroom 145. Barrington 4th of July Fireworks, Behind the Scenes

The weather cooperated, giving us a beautiful night for watching this year’s Barrington fireworks display from the front lawn at Barrington High School.

Barrington Fireworks on the 4th of July
Barrington Fireworks on the 4th of July

And we have new appreciation for this annual tradition after meeting committed volunteers and the pyrotechnics team in charge of the display at the staging area for Barrington’s fireworks this 4th of July.

Preparing for the July 4th Fireworks in Barrington - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Preparing for the July 4th Fireworks in Barrington – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Did you know that the volunteers who organize Barrington’s 4th of July Fest at the Brat Tent are responsible for orchestrating Barrington’s fireworks each year?  In fact, 4th of July Fest committee chair, Stephanie Cecola, says fireworks were the primary reason the Barrington group incorporated in 1984.  “The community did not have fireworks prior to that.”  She says the July 4th tradition began as a Beer Tent with only hot dogs and drinks and evolved into the 100% volunteer run Brat Tent we know today.

2013 4th of July Fest Brat Tent in Barrington - Photographed by Bob Lee
2013 4th of July Fest Brat Tent in Barrington – Photographed by Bob Lee

“The community has grown and so has the festival in Barrington which now incorporates food, beverages, two evening bands plus more live music, daily children’s entertainment and the fireworks.  Parking fees and any other ticket sales from the Brat Tent are donated to many local charities.”

Barrington's Fireworks Finale - July 4, 2013
Barrington’s Fireworks Finale – July 4, 2013

As spectators set up picnic blankets on the BHS front lawn this 4th of July…

Spectators Prepare to Watch the Fireworks at Barrington High School
Spectators Prepare to Watch the Fireworks at Barrington High School

Stephanie brought us to meet Barrington Fire Prevention Officer, Jim Feit, and the crew from Mad Bomber Fireworks.  We were treated to a behind-the-scenes look as they were setting up the fireworks on a family owned parcel of land behind the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney building on Lake Cook Road.

Fire Prevention Officer, Jim Feit, discusses fireworks logistics with organizers - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Fire Prevention Officer, Jim Feit, discusses fireworks logistics with organizers – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

“We are so thankful to the Wamberg family for allowing us access to their property.”  Because of the area’s many trees, buildings and conservation areas, Stephanie says there are few available spaces that are safe to launch professional firework displays in Barrington.  “If it were not for the Wambergs granting us permission to utilize their land, we might not be enjoying the fireworks show today due to lack of safe land space.”

Firefighters Prepare for Barrington's Fireworks Display - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Firefighters Prepare for Barrington’s Fireworks Display – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Officer Feit who has lived in Barrington for 62 years, served as Fire Marshall for the past 40 years and has been handling fireworks safety for Barrington’s annual display for nearly three decades….

Barrington Fire Prevention Officer with 4th Fest Committee Chair, Stephanie Cecola - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Jim Feit and Stephanie Cecola Before the Barrington Fireworks Display – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

From last year’s extreme drought to this year’s recent floods, Jim says weather conditions pose unique challenges with each display.  “A lot of work goes into keeping the area and the people safe.  From bad weather to hot weather, there are just so many variables.

Setting up for Barrington's 4th of July Fireworks - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Setting up for Barrington’s 4th of July Fireworks – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Barrington’s fireworks start just after dusk, at about 9:20 p.m.  During the show, the fireworks include a mix of “Ball Shells”, “Canister Shells” and “Salutes”.  They come in all colors and many have names like “Waterfalls” and “Brocades” or flower names like “Chrysanthemums” and “Peonies”….

Ball Shell Fireworks Pre-Launch in Barrington - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Ball Shell Fireworks Pre-Launch in Barrington – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

Mad Bomber pyrotechnician, Kevin Murphy, says the ball shells burst into a very symmetrical, round break.

July 4th Fireworks in Barrington
July 4th Fireworks in Barrington

The canister shells contain “inserts and little whistles that squirm all over the sky in different directions.”

July 4th Fireworks in Barrington
July 4th Fireworks in Barrington

And then there are the Salutes, which Kevin says they save for the end of the show.  “Our whole goal is to entertain our customer and make them happy.  I’d rather do it in a shorter, more energetic display than a long, drawn out display and that’s our whole objective.”

My iPhone was recording during a “wind test” prior to this year’s show, with a quick bang that startled me and photographer, Julie Linnekin.

The whole display consists of about 600 fireworks or “shells”, with 200 shells fired in the first 20 minutes or so and 400 of those shells saved for the remote-control triggered finale, which Kevin Murphy says only lasts a minute.  “That’s a lot of firepower concentrated into about sixty seconds, with the most powerful shells at the end so everybody knows the show is over.  It’s the grand finale.”

Stephanie Cecola says Barrington’s fireworks display costs about $12,500 each year and is paid for with funds raised during the annual 4th of July Fest in addition to generous donations from members of the Barrington business community, like Barrington Bank & Trust, the sponsor of this year’s Fireworks.

July 4th Fireworks in Barrington
July 4th Fireworks in Barrington

“I think the most important part of why I wanted you guys to be here is to really highlight the amount of dedication that Jim Feit and other volunteers give to Barrington’s 4th of July Festival and fireworks each year.  Jim Feit has given so much of his time to these fireworks for so many years.  He’s very personally involved and he loves the community, just as much as all of the rest of the volunteers who put on the Brat Tent every 4th of July.”

Jim Feit and Stephanie Cecola Before the Barrington Fireworks Display - Photographed by Julie Linnekin
Jim Feit and Stephanie Cecola Before the Barrington Fireworks Display – Photographed by Julie Linnekin

To learn more about the fireworks and Barrington’s annual 4th of July Festival at the Brat Tent, visit the committee’s website at Barrington4thofJuly.com.

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