Houston Founders Day Fireworks Celebration

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End Aug 17, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Houston Founders Day Celebration Fireworks were the culmination of a number of dreams and accomplishments this year, as well as being a memorial show for 3 Alaskan Pyrotechnicians who past away since last Founders Day, Tom Walker, Clay Holzl and Rodney Clark.


I have done the choreography for the Houston Founders Day Fireworks Celebration every year since 1987 (except for 2004). Since the sponsors alternated between Jerry Mignano of Jerry's Discount Fireworks and Robert Hall of Gorilla Fireworks it has always been an outlet for any creative little thing I wanted to include since they always wanted to outdo the other from the year before.

Ever since I can remember I wanted to shoot fireworks to the Alaska's Flag. The State song of Alaska - and it just so happened that this year Alaska is starting to celebrate it's 50th Aniversary of statehood.


When I was in China with Larry Mattingly last October (2007) I ordered some custom shells made that were gold star shaped shells with a blue ring so that as the stars expanded they remained on a field of blue. And with a musician friend of mine (Mike Wong of Corona California) I came up with an original arrangement with very slight variations to make it even more dramatic to shoot the fireworks to, that had extra ripples of music for comet fans and pauses for large willow shells to drip.

An Alaska Flag Setpiece that apeared from behind a creamora bomb wall with roman candle barrages of Blue Stars and fish fanned behind it was also a feature that started on the word "flag" in the second line.

Picture Fireworks to This Song! Sorry the video tapes all seemed to miss the first few cues.

Alaska's Flag

Written by Marie Drake
Original Composition by Elinor Dusenbury

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue -

          8 gold star shells with blue rings, 3" mine walls on "field", 4" mine walls on "blue"
Alaska's flag. May it mean to you -
          Creamora Wall revieling Alaska Flag set piece.
          Blue Roman Candle fans across the front, blue mums above
The blue of the sea, the evening sky - 
          Blue strobes and sky blue peony
The mountain lakes, and the flow'rs nearby -
          Green & purple falling leaves and varigated ring shells
The gold of the early sourdough's dreams - 
Gold wave to blue, varigated mums 1.4 "Zipper" Z cake
The precious gold of the hills and streams -
          Gold strobes, lime green peony, blue moving stars
The brilliant stars in the northern sky -
          Silver strobes and purple mums
The "Bear" - the "Dipper" - and, shining high -
          3", 4" 5" stack of Gold Mums
The great North Star with its steady light -
          Tiger tail to Silver Mum
Over land and sea a beacon bright.  -
          Sea Blue Mums and a 3" Salute
Alaska's flag - to Alaskans dear,  -
          Blue Mums, Blue Peonys Blue Strobes
The simple flag of a last frontier. -
          Gold Horsetails and Gold Willows on each beat

This was an increadible way to start the show.




Jackie Whedbee - front, Lead Pyrotechnician and Choreographer of the 2008 Founders Day Fireworks Spectacular.

Larry Mattingly - back left, guest pyro and special friend of Jackie's from Tacoma Washington.

Dave Russell
- back middle, developer and programer of the Firelinx Computerized Wireless Pyrotchnic Firing System and technical support of the system.

Bob Hall
- back right, owner of Gorilla Fireworks, sponsor of this years Founders Day Fireworks Spectacular and overall chairman of this years Founders Day.


This was the 7th year that Larry Mattingly of Entertainment Fireworks, Olympia Washington has come to Alaska in August and helped on the Houston Founders Day show.

In the past Entertainment Fireworks did the Fireworks for the Alaska State Fair Fireworks, So he came up a little early and helped on Founders Day and then Jackie's crew helped with the State Fair Fireworks . .


We were able to set up the show in record time this year, which was a good thing since within minutes of declaring continuety 100% the rain started with a vengence. Which was a fine time to call security and go
to dinner . . .by the time we got back there were pools of water 4" deep to deal with.

The Firelinx computerized wireless pyrotechnic firing system has the ability to check continuity for each modual instead of waiting until the entire show is set up. Saving time at the last minute . . .as each area is completed that area is checked, and any problems fixed.


In "The Old Days" there were pyrotechnicians who said that (direct quote) "Jackie does not do "REAL" Fireworks . . . I never was sure what they meant . . the implication was that since I always used so much 1.4 in my shows to get the "Layers and Textures" that it somehow took away from the 1.3 . . . now 25 years after that statement the "Real" pyros are adding more and more cakes to there shows and the industry as a whole seems to be coming around to the same style of fireworks I have been doing for 25 years.



Dave Russell, developer and programmer of the Firelinx Computerized Wireless pyrotechnic firings system was in Alaska to help with the technical issues I may have had using my new firing system for the first time and he said -------

"Jackie made very efficient use of the system, launching over 1000 shells and cakes with only 10 modules and 320 cues.  By using multiple daisy-chained slats across a 250' front, she managed all of the front and cake cues throughout the show on only two modules.  The same technique allowed the finale to be spread out as well, utilizing only one module.  The main body required seven modules.  Setup was very simple in this configuration, the modules went between the sandboxes of the main body and from several hundred feet away the Command Module had no communications issues even with three sandboxes between it and the module. Jackie's choreography file printouts helped the crew to place and wire the show in record time, with only three continuity errors in the entire layout which were all corrected quickly.  Being able to fire anything anywhere anytime allowed her to do incredible layering of the cakes, smaller intermediate shells and then the larger shells breaking over the top.  It was one kickass show."



The discharge site is 300' wide and 50' deep and after the show there was not a single square foot that was not covered with debris.

Jackie Whedbee

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