The making of a fireworks show

Fireworks have been a big passion of mine for a long time. In fact, while working as a summer-intern at Apple Computer in Cupertino between 1988 and 1991, I got invited by some friends to participate in the actual firing of the Fourth of July show at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. Being part of the crew, loading the shells into the mortars, and wiring up the fireworks was certainly a lifetime experience.

So when Mike Mentuck, Tony Sasso, and Judy Jacobi asked me if I would like to chair the Marblehead Fireworks Committee, I was easily convinced. A lot of work went into the preparations for the show this entire spring – especially into fund-raising – and I am very grateful to all the donors who have sent contributions to make this year’s fireworks display possible. And we truly couldn’t have put together this show without the countless hours spent by volunteers as well as the Marblehead Police, Fire, Harbormaster, and Park&Rec departments. I am also grateful to Atlas Pyro for not only putting together such a great show for us, but also for supporting us with a significant donation this year.

So what goes into the making of a fireworks show on the Fourth of July in Marblehead? It all starts before dawn, as we leave Beverly Port Marina on Electric Armadillo to drive her over to Marblehead harbor:


As we approach the mouth of Marblehead harbor, the barge is already waiting in position, having arrived from Swampscott/Lynn during the night:

As we enter Marblehead harbor we are rewarded with a beautiful view of the sun rising over the boats and over Salem Sound:


The Commercial Street landing in Marblehead is the designated meeting point for loading the fireworks and crew onto our boats. Mike Mentuck transports all explosives aboard Elizabeth M. and Tim Green takes the crew out to the barge on Reel Magic.

As we arrive at the barge and load the fireworks, the 500 ft security zone around the barge gets established. During the day this security zone is maintained by a group of volunteers, and Tim and I take the first shift.

After 9:00 am the group of volunteers led by Jock Danforth takes over and we get a little break on Electric Armadillo.

After 6:00 pm the Marblehead harbormaster and a US Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel take over the patrol of the security zone, and everything is going according to plan. Sunset at 8:25 brings renewed activity:


Marblehead light is decorated festively and the preparation for the harbor illumination begin, as residents around the harbor, yacht clubs, boy scouts, firefighters, and volunteers prepare to light the flares:


At 8:45 pm the flares are lit, and the Marblehead harbor illumination begins. You can view the following panorama image in larger scale by clicking on the image to open a higher resolution version:

At 9:00 pm the fireworks begin and the show is indeed as spectacular as we’ve all hoped it would be. What a great day on the water, and what a great day to be in Marblehead!


Once again a big thank you to all who made this fireworks display possible!

This article is being cross-posted on XML Aficionado and the Falk House blog. More photos and high-res versions of the above photos can be found on my photo website.

MLT's Wizard of Oz dazzles audience

Marblehead Little Theatre's Wizard of Oz production opened this weekend and the performance was enchanting. The story, special effects, and first class acting bewitched children and adults alike.

Starring Ron Amon as the Lion, Lianne Gennaco as Dorothy, Ted Merritt as the Tin Man, and Erik Rodenhiser as the Scarecrow, the "Fab Four" set out on their quest to find the Wizard and follow the Yellow Brick Road all the way to the Emerald City.

Janet Sheehan is spectacular as the Wicked Witch of the West, as she tries to get Dorothy's slippers and attempts to block the way of the quartet every-witch way she can.

Likewise, Ursina Amsler attempts to help the four as Glinda the Good Witch of the North, and comes to the rescue when things get sticky.

The Munchkins are adorable and oh so thankful to Dorothy when she drops her house on the Wicked Witch of the East.


Karin Anderson, Nora Falk, and Barbara Lasovick are the Apple Trees who don't like to be picked, and are defending their reputation by throwing apples after the Scarecrow and Dorothy.

The best thing about the show, however, are the dance scenes - both in Oz and in the Enchanted Forest, where the Jitterbug captures the travelers. This elaborate choreography is a clear departure from the old ways for MLT and adds greatly to the overall professionalism of the performance.

For more photos, please see this gallery, where you can also buy prints. However, I should add that I wasn't able to attend the dress rehearsal this year, so these photos were taken during an actual performance, without flash, and only with the small 7 Mpixel camera, so they are not as perfect as in previous years.

Last, but not least, if you want to see the show, you can buy tickets online on the MLT web site. The show runs the weekends of Nov 10, 11 and Nov 17, 18 with Saturday performances at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM and Sunday performances at 1:00 PM.

Restaurant Review: Atomic Cafe

What a great last day of summer in New England. Fall starts tomorrow, but today's temperatures are in the high 70s and it's just beautiful out there.

Talking of which, I just got home from lunch at the Atomic Cafe, and liked it so much that I thought I'd share a few thoughts and some photos (nothing high-res, just a few snapshots taken with my iPhone during lunch today).

Over the past few months Atomic Cafe has become a new staple in Marblehead due to it's central location, great food, and excellent coffee selection.

Located on School Street - right next to the Marblehead Little Theatre's newly renovated Firehouse - the Atomic Cafe sports 4-5 booths for seating 4, 3 tables for seating 2, a small bar overlooking school street, and a few comfy chairs. Their official address is 14 School Street, Marblehead, MA 01945.

In the summer you can also take your drink outside to the two benches in front of the cafe, or enjoy your beverages in the sun.

The Atomic Cafe offers WiFi interet access to patrons for free, and you can easily connect with your laptop (or iPhone) and utilize fast connectivity while enjoying your Frozen Cappuccino or other fine beverages.

Talking of coffees - I can't even begin to describe how good they are, as I wouldn't be doing them justice. Luckily, there is already another great blog post on barismo that goes into great detail about he espresso shots and doubles, so you should read that. Another great blog reaction is on (a)musings.

In addition to the usual selection of sandwiches, wraps, and panninis, the Atomic Cafe offers a few signature dishes that are both inspired and delicious.

This Grilled Pesto and Goat Cheese sandwich on the left is what I had for lunch today, and it is simply "to die for". As such it has quickly become one of my favoites. Equally impressive is the Caprese Twist or the Swanky Chicken. The selection of cakes and other sweet treasures easily out-performs Starbucks and their coffees creations, inspired teas, and smoothies are spectacular.

There is also a second sister location of the Atomic Cafe in Beverly, but I haven't tried that one yet. I will plan to do that in the upcoming weeks for some work lunch, since my office happen to be in Beverly, too. It will be interesting to see how the two locations compare, especially since the one in Beverly was already established in 1996, whereas the Marblehead location is fairly new.

My rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊ (4 out of a possible 5 diamonds).