AP NEWS

Winter Blast off to rainy, cloudy start

February 15, 2019 GMT

Winter Blast is back for its 30th year in Lake Havasu City, and organizers are expecting a festive weekend.

The festival, which takes place at Havasu 95 Speedway at SARA Park, will feature hundreds of fireworks enthusiasts, vendors and displays throughout this weekend. According to Western Pyrotechnic Association President Greg Dandorand, spectators have already begun to gather.

“I can see groups of people camping in the hills around the event,” Dandorand said. “I know they’re here for us.”

According to Dandorand, Winter Blast will feature displays of several million dollars in fireworks to light up Havasu’s night sky. While those skies were predicted to clear by Thursday evening, Pyrotechnic Association members had plans in case those clouds remained.

“We can shoot through the rain,” Dandorand said. “I’ve shot in rain and snow … but you definitely don’t want your fireworks to get wet. We can use thin plastic, tarps, pallet-wrap, and just shoot through the plastic if it’s raining.”

While displays were planned for Thursday evening, Dandorand expects many of the event’s participants to launch their fireworks during public displays on Friday and Saturday. In the event of torrential rainfall or high wind, shows might be postponed until the weather subsides – and if it doesn’t, fireworks displays could be combined with Sunday’s festivities for multiple shows.

“Lake Havasu City has shown tremendous support,” Dandorand said. “We’ve been married to the city for 30 years, and city officials are there with us. We all work together, with support from the people around town. Years ago, when this club was first formed, there wasn’t much around SARA Park. But it was easy to work with the city, the place seemed like a good fit, and the festival has gotten bigger and bigger every year.”

In keeping good faith with Lake Havasu City, the Western Pyrotechnic Association closely monitors participants’ safe handling of explosives at the event. Myrl Wieland is the manufacturing co-chair for the event, and he’s tasked with ensuring everyone handles their fireworks responsibly.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever even had a papercut since I started here,” Wieland said. “This is a hobby for people from all walks of life … if someone new participates, we try to pair them with someone who’s experienced.”

While Wieland expected Thursday’s rain to hinder displays, clear skies this weekend would provide ample opportunity for Pyrotechnic Association members to display their craft.

“Everyone is here to put on a good show,” Wieland said. “I think it’s going to be a sell-out event this weekend.”

This year’s Winter Blast event will open at noon today, Saturday and Sunday. Spectators are advised to arrive early, as parking spaces will be filled quickly, according to organizers. Coverage of the event will be provided at SARA Park during the festival on KKRV FM 104.7 radio.

Guests at the event are advised to leave their pets at home. SARA Park Dog Park will be closed throughout the event until Monday.