Skyrocketing temperatures can't stop Skyrockers' fireworks display

Published On: Jul 04 2012 07:01:22 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 04 2012 07:27:29 PM CDT

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Wednesday’s sky-high temperatures were not enough to stop a 30-year La Crosse tradition -- the fireworks at Riverfest.

But the problem is not just that it's hot, it’s that it's dry too. The city of La Crosse has issued a burn ban, which means no backyard fireworks.

That's why the Riverfest fireworks display, sponsored by the La Crosse Jaycees, is even more important this year.

"The only reason that we've been allowed to shoot the show is because, here at Pettibone Park, you dig 12 inches down, you hit water. We're right on the river and the river is high. So actually, the high-river stages played to our favor this year to keep this show from being canceled because of fire hazard," said Skyrocker volunteer Jonathan Vermes.

With dozens of volunteers setting up hundreds of shells, the Skyrockers promise it's a show to remember.

"We've got a dandy show here. We've got a neat opener for the people with a lot of gold colors in it, you know, kind of lighting up the river bank. Our shells are just excellent. We've got over 300 shells in the main body of this show," said Chief Skyrocker Pat Bonadurer.

But for the volunteers, the most memorable part of the night might not be the show itself, but what comes right after it's over.

"We take our ear muffs off at 10:20 after the show and just hear the applause coming from people. And it must be like a rock performer or any performer. It's just that neat feeling and we give ourselves high-fives and kind of think we're the greatest people in the world because we put on a fantastic fireworks show; it's safe and the people do like it. So that's the neat part of doing it and that's why we all get together," said Bonadurer.

The fireworks kick off Wednesday at 10 p.m. This year's display cost about $17,000. It’s all paid for with funds earned through the La Crosse Jaycees beverage tent at Riverfest.