How Dunedin puts on a July 4 fireworks show

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Dunedin residents will get the opportunity Friday night to enjoy the Fourth of July once again with a spectacular fireworks show at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, home of the Blue Jays minor league baseball team.

Preparations for the 20-minute event take place well before the first sparkling burst hits the sky, according to Julie Kliegman of the Tampa Bay Times.

The $11,000 show is the work of pyrotechnics company Fireworks Displays Unlimited, a Miami firm with a branch in Tampa. They order the fireworks for Dunedin and 20 other shows nearly a year in advance, lead technician Kim Wawrowicz tells the Times.

Working with fire marshals and the blue Jay’s organization, Wawrowicz ensures the action is at a safe distance from onlookers.

“It’s a lot of fun to get the families and kids out here and on the field,” Dunedin Blue Jays assistant general manager Janette Donoghue tells Kliegman. “It’s a lot of excitement.”

Fireworks launch — rain or shine — from right next to the stadium, at Curtis Fundamental Elementary School. Just to be safe, Wawrowicz says, they will prepare for rain.

Only one thing will stop Friday’s show: exceptionally heavy winds. Last year, flooding forced the cancellation of fireworks, which were set to be launched from the stadium itself.

Explosions, all 4,631 of them, will be synchronized to a soundtrack supplied by Donoghue to Wawrowicz’s team in a show that relies heavily on the colors red, white and blue. For the Dunedin show, the sequence includes six segments, 900 opening and 1,840 closing shots, and eight different colors.

Each show requires more than 20 hours of preparation on average, about one hour of prep for every minute of fireworks.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Wawrowicz. “If you go out there and put on the best show possible, you’re really making people happy.”

Dunedin’s celebration begins with a free Blue Jays game at 4 p.m., followed by a concert from the Greg Billings Band. Fireworks launch at 9 p.m.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.