Living Skies Come Alive: Fireworks weekend raised $150,000

October 9, 2017 8:04 am
Kevin Weedmark

The 2017 Living Skies Come Alive International Fireworks Competition on the August long weekend was the most successful fundraiser in the history of Moosomin Regional Park, raising net proceeds of $150,000.

Layne McFarlane of the fireworks committee said he couldn’t believe how much the event made after all the income and costs were calculated.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said Thursday. “In other years we’ve had $40,000 to 50,000 at the end of the day. We’ve been pleased with that, but the total this year is just incredible.

“We will go forward and we’d like to think we can be successful with our fireworks, but we don’t expect it to again reach that level. But that $150,000 is a tremendous benefit to our park.”

He said the plan is to continue with the annual fireworks competition.

“We had a fireworks committee meeting, and the recommendation of our committee to the board will be to proceed with fireworks once again,” he said.

“I think it would be our desire to have an international competition again.”

Volunteers are always a challenge, McFarlane said.

“Getting enough volunteers is always a challenge, and the larger the event, the more volunteers you require.

“There has been discussion about inviting community groups to assist with specific duties on the weekend as a way of broadening the base of volunteers for the event.”

“We will have to change how we organize it. Because it has grown, we need to have more supervisors or co-ordinators to better manage all the people and vehicles and campers.”

He said he was happy to see the high attendance and the impact on the community.

“Something that became very evident this year is the impact on the community,” he said. “Restaurants were busy, a lot of hotel rooms were rented, grocery stores were busy, and other stores were as well, and that’s a very positive spinoff of this event.

“It feels great to be part of something that has become such a success. After the event is over it’s a great relief, but we’re very proud and pleased with how the event has evolved.”

The park had been earmarking proceeds of the fireworks for the water treatment plant.

“It couldn’t happen at a better time for us, with the water plant that we’ve just entered into an agreement for,” says McFarlane.

“We will spend approximately $650,000 to have the water plant developed, and we will put $350,000 down.

“That $350,000 is an accumulation of net proceeds from the fireworks over the last eight years.

“Because it was such a success this year, it basically allowed us to pay half of the cost of the water plant up front. For a small park, it’s quite a challenge, but the fireworks provided a great boost.”

Peter Palmer of CanFire, the Winnipeg company that represented Canada at the International Fireworks Competition, said he is happy to be associated with such a successful event.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said.

“It’s a win-win for everyone—for the audience that sees a great show, for the park to raise money. They can use that money for infrastructure now.

“Now they know what’s possible, and going forward they can decide whether they want to continue on with an international or a regional competition.”

Palmer said it was exciting to be part of the international competition this year

“It was a wonderful experience for our crew to be part of it. Your only other option to work with a Chinese team would be to go abroad—to go to China or Europe or wherever these competitions are. Even if you did go, if you’re not invited to compete you’re just a spectator. Being able to work with the Chinese crew and their script and their logistics, it’s like having a backstage pass.”

Palmer has been competing at Moosomin Regional Park for more than five years.

He said the word is getting out far and wide about the Living Skies Come Alive fireworks competition.

“Because of all the publicity this summer, another park in Saskatchewan asked us about doing something similar, and it has brought attention from as far away as Quebec and Ontario. People are saying they’ve heard about it.”

Palmer says he loves his job and finds firing off fireworks more of a challenge than his previous career—flying a commercial airliner.

“It’s a challenge every day,” he said. “I used to fly commercial jets and I left that to do this.

“This is more challenging day to day by a factor of five or more.

“After 10 years of flying jets, it’s the same checklist, the same thing over and over, it’s very routine, and you want it to be routine because you want flying airplanes to be uneventful.

“By contrast, this, every day is a new challenge. We produce over 100 shows a year, so we’re constantly on the move, on the go, meeting government restrictions, site restrictions, working with committees, working with fire departments, and then new fireworks coming in. I’m just leaving back to China and I will be there for four to five months working on research and development of new products for 2018 and beyond. It’s always a challenge.”