Canadian competitor says Living Skies a world-class event

July 30, 2019 3:19 pm
Kevin Weedmark

The Canadian competitor in the 2019 Living Skies Come Alive International Fireworks Competition says the event at Moosomin Lake has become a truly world-class competition.

“It’s international level fireworks,” said Peter Palmer of Canfire Pyrotechnics.

“The pinnacle of fireworks for people around the world is Montreal. They have a long legacy of 30-40 years of teams from around the world.

“Moosomin just switched over to an international level over the last three years, and it looks like we’re going to maintain that. As the budgets go up at Moosomin, we’re able to attract bigger companies, more countries, and more talent. The level of the show is now on par with international competitions you would see in other parts of the world, whether it’s Hanover Germany, Montreal, even English Bay in Vancouver.

“Here it’s a little different than English Bay where they’re limited to 12-16 people on the barge. And those teams are helping out whereas our teams work for us, so there’s a pride factor and a passion going into the shows here.

“It’s a win for the visiting team such as the Philippines, it’s a win for Canada, and it’s also a win for the audience and the regional park. Everyone benefits, because everyone wants to put their best foot forward.”

He said there is a lot of preparation for the show, and there are no second chances.

“We don’t get a second chance to do this,” he said. “We can’t go back on the following weekend and say ‘Let’s do a do-over.’ You have to do everything right, right here, right now. There’s a lot of pressure. There are a lot of specialty fireworks that Ottawa approves one time for the show that we can’t use any other time or for any other shows.”

He said Living Skies is unlike any of the other shows Canfire does.

“Moosomin is a highlight and a feature show for us. It’s something the crew looks forward to. It’s not an issue of ‘how much money can I make?’ It’s an issue of ‘how well can I do this?’

“I don’t think we’ve ever made a profit on these shows because it’s not about that, we’re always trying to up our game and bring new equipment. Last year we invested at least $20,000 into equipment just for Moosomin, beyond the fireworks, beyond the travel, beyond the crew. That’s in hardware, and we upgraded our firing system for Moosomin last year by $15,000 to handle the larger capacity of the show.

“It’s not like other shows, because we know a year ahead of time we’re going to be doing this, which makes it easy for us to plan. We’re not wondering if this is going to happen or not. I told the board I’m on board for the next 10 years if they want to do this.”

Canfire Pyrotechnics has been around since 2002, and Palmer has offices in both Canada and China, which gives him insight into the fireworks world. “I was able to be at the Liu Yang International Fireworks Festival. I was a judge this year in May. I worked with six other judges and we judged entrants from around the world. The judging was so close, Italy vs Japan vs Holland, for the top three places. There was less than two points between first, second and third. I was able to meet the teams, see their setup, talk to them afterwards and debrief on what they could have done different or better. It was a great experience.”

Palmer is looking forward to Living Skies. “I’m absolutely looking forward to it, the crew is motivated. Canada is up Saturday night, and the Philippines is up Sunday night. We’re happy to be the first up at bat.”
He said the two shows will be very different.

“I know the Philippine team is doing a very traditional show using Filipino music, it will have the national flavor of the Philippines,” he said.

“Ours is called ‘Ignite the pyro machine.’

“We want to create that energy—here we go. Bring it in, and it’s going to come in there, and then we create our magic. It’s not a traditional Canada theme, a national patriotic theme, it’s more for those fireworks enthusiasts—here we go and we want you to be completely enthralled with the energy and what we bring forward from Team Canada, so it’s a little different approach than the last two years.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’ve been building fireworks for 6-8 months for this show. We have half a shipping container full of fireworks for Moosomin.

“The Philippines team has the advantage of seeing what we did last year, what the Americans did last year, and what the China team did two years ago—everything’s on Youtube—and I believe they’ve definitely upped their game. The Moosomin organizers have increased the budget over the last two years, so we have a healthier budget and we can put on a bigger show.

“The intensity and the complexity is increasing drastically. We’re spending more prep time ahead of time with the fireworks selections, organizing the angles, the pieces.

“Each show involves over 2,000 pieces, so that involves a lot more pre-work. We’re like elves in the workshop sorting all the pieces out. It’s going to be an amazing show.”