Fathoms' o' Fun fireworks show almost a 'no go'

Firework explodes in the Sinclair Inlet during the Fathom
Firework explodes in the Sinclair Inlet during the Fathom's O' Fun Festival Grand Fireworks Show.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

Fathoms o’ Fun Festival Chair Shannon King looked at her watch around 7 p.m. on July 4.

The reason King was watching her watch was because the firework shells used for the annual Grand Fireworks Show had not arrived.

“At that time, there was a 90 percent chance the fireworks show was not going to happen,” King said.

But with a little luck and quick work, more than 3,000 people lined up along the Port Orchard waterfront, along with others scattered throughout the uphill residential area, enjoyed another fireworks extravaganza.

Phil Paquette, a FOF board member and pyrotechnics director, said in the past, there has never been a problem with getting the fireworks in time for the annual show.

“There is a lot of work setting up the display,” Paquette said.

“My supplier — Eagle Fireworks in Kent — has always been reliable in the past. We’ve always got a lot of ‘bang for our buck.’ ”

Paquette, who began as the group’s pyrotechnics director in the late 1990s, said this year the supplier was late in delivering the shells.

He said in the past, the shells would arrive the day before the fireworks show.

“I would normally order them the afternoon of July 3 and stay with them overnight,” Paquette said. “Then my crew would show up and start working on the display while I took a power nap. Everything on our end is ready to go.”

This year, Paquette said, there was miscommunication between him and the supplier. The delivery driver came from Olympia to deliver the explosive shells.

“We didn’t get the shells until between 8:30 and 9 p.m.,” he said. “We had to scramble. When they showed up, we jumped into action.”

Once the shells arrived at the dock, Paquette got in a boat for a 30-minute ride to the floating barge — rented from Thompson Pile Driving Co.

Paquette said all the firework shells were set off electronically, according to state regulations.

“I was so relieved to get the fireworks loaded, wired and fired, even though it was late,” he said.

The fireworks show began about 11:05 p.m. and lasted about 25 minutes.

“Our crew is not only skillful, but dedicated,” Paquette said. “We knew the reality and possibility of no fireworks show because the delivery was so late.”

On Monday, Paquette was packing up equipment from the show.

“There’s a lot of setup and cleanup for a 30-minute show,” he said.


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