Living Skies Come Alive this weekend
• By Kevin Weedmark
Biggest crowd ever expected
Organizers are expecting the largest crowd ever when the Living Skies Come Alive fireworks competition is held over Moosomin Lake this weekend.
All 300 regular and overflow camping spots at Moosomin Regional Park are already full, something that has never happened before.
Advance ticket sales are also going well for the weekend, especially for the Sunday night show when China will perform, preceded by a traditional Chinese Lion Dance at 7 pm.
July 31 is the last day for discounted advance ticket sales.
This is the eighth annual Living Skies Come Alive fireworks competition, but the first international version, with Canada performing Saturday night and China Sunday night.
“It’s been popular—we’ve definitely sold more tickets for the Sunday,” says Laurie Renneberg, one of the organizers.
“Anyone coming for the Sunday should definitely come early because there are going to be a lot of people. We’re thinking we might have 500-1,000 more people this year.”
“The international aspect of it is an added attraction,” adds Layne McFarlane, another organizer.
“Everybody has seen fireworks. For people who have come to the fireworks at the lake, most of them come away and say ‘wow,’ because it’s not your typical fireworks show.
“We’ve been very fortunate to work with the companies we have in Winnipeg and Regina. They’ve put on tremendous shows. And being over the lake, the reflection off the lake just adds to it. Now this year, you add in the international aspect of China and it just makes one more reason for people to come out and see it.
“From an organizing perspective, it’s a little scary, trying to make sure we have enough space for parking, that we have enough volunteers. The largest crowds traditionally have been on the Sunday night. Typically there are four thousand people there on Sunday night. This year will there be 5,000 people there on Sunday night? We don’t know yet how many there will be, but we know there will be a lot.”
People are coming for the fireworks from far and wide. “We have people from B.C. who are coming, who are planning their holiday around it. The fireworks guy said he’s got acquaintances down in the States who are coming to see the show. It’s certainly added a lot to it,” says McFarlane.
“It gave us the option of adding a few things to it like the Chinese Lion Dance,” adds Renneberg. “That’s something we are really looking forward to.”
Many other events are set for the weekend.
There will be a sand sculpture contest Saturday from 11 am to noon.
There will be bouncy toys set up from 10 am to 6 pm both Saturday and Sunday.
There will be kids games from 1-2 pm Saturday and Sunday.
There will be a human soccer ball contest Saturday at 4 pm.
Pontoon boat rides will be offered Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
There will be a pancake, sausage and hashbrown breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning from 8:30-11 am.
A barbecue tent will be set up from 11 am to 9 pm both Saturday and Sunday serving hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks and chips.
There will be suppers served from 5-7 pm both nights.
There will be a 50/50 over the weekend, with the pot starting at $500.
Renneberg expects the pontoon boat rides to be popular.
“It’s surprising how many people have never been on the lake, so they enjoy coming out on the lake. It’s about a 45 minute ride, and we take them down by the cabins. It’s a thrill for a lot of them to be on the lake. We don’t charge anything for that.”
Overflow camping is full and there is a waiting list. Anyone still wanting to bring a camper should call the park to make arrangements.
The larger numbers are creating some logistical issues, but McFarlane says it’s good to see so much interest.
“It’s one of those good problems to have,” he said. “It’s like being a farmer and you’ve got too much grain and not enough grain storage. It’s one of those really good problems to have.
“It’s great that we’ve got so many people coming on the Sunday night, but it’s almost a worry of being able to provide a good experience to everyone who comes. You don’t want there to be lineups or delays.”
The event brings in between 6,000 and 7,000 people each year. Last year there was a paid attendance of 7,153 over the weekend.
It takes a lot of work to put on the fireworks show, with 75-100 volunteers involved each night. “If anyone wants to volunteer even an hour or two, it certainly helps,” said Renneberg. “It doesn’t take much and it’s not hard work.”
Families at the park are helping out. McFarlane said one family that has a lot of company coming for the event volunteered to take care of traffic control at one intersection for a full day, with different family members home for the event taking shifts.
Renneberg points out that her daughters-in-law volunteered to help organize the children’s events this year.
“If everyone pitches in, it really helps,” she said.
Volunteers are still needed, and people can contact Laurie Renneberg, Layne McFarlane or call or email the park if they want to volunteer.
There is still a lot of work to do to get ready for the fireworks competition.
“Usually the week before I do nothing else,” said McFarlane.
McFarlane says he hopes some people who have never seen the fireworks competition before take in this year’s shows. “Moosomin Lake provides a unique opportunity to set the fireworks over the lake,” he said.
Chinese competitors should step it up a notch
Peter Palmer of CanFire Pyrotechnics of Winnipeg has been competing in Living Skies Come Alive for several years, and helped arrange for his Chinese competitor to take part in Living Skies Come Alive this year.
“We have gone to a lot of shows in China, where there are both international and regional shows,” he said.
“Michael Lee and Fireshow were doing a show that was a cut above the rest. They were pushing the envelope for their shows. For one show they were using eight aerial drones with fireworks. Their level of expertise is quite complex.”
He said a lot of work has gone into bringing the Chinese group to Canada for the fireworks competition. “We have been working on it for months,” he said.
Palmer believes the fireworks this summer will be a level higher than last year. “It’s definitely going to be going up a notch,” he said.
“They are going to step it up. They are going to bring their A game and we are going to bring ours—we have to. In fireworks competitions you don’t get a second chance to repeat what you are doing. You only have one chance to get it right. That is part of the pressure for any competitor, us included.” He said Fireshow will be bringing fireworks from China that have never before been seen in Canada.