Before the fireworks pop, Pilot Butte is prepped

Region's largest Fourth display bigger than ever

Pilot Butte fireworks prepped

BEND, Ore. - The pops and sparkles can make Independence Day pretty magical.

But before the big bang, there's plenty of behind-the-scenes work to make it all come alive.

"The design phase almost takes longer than it takes to set up the whole show," Pat Olsen, the lead pyrotechnician with Homeland Fireworks, said Thursday. so for every minute of show music, you've got about 3-4 hours of design work that goes into it."

A handful of professional pyrotechnicians are assembling each firework by hand -- all 777 of them.

"It's almost one-third larger than last year's show," Olsen said.

As much as the show is about the oohs and ahhs, it's also about safety.

"We make sure everything is set up correctly, we do some pre-treatments with foam and getting hose on the ground, getting fire crews ready to go -- and then we are ready for the show," said Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki.

Some people joke that Friday night's show is known as the annual "burning of the butte."

But it's no laughing matter if the hill actually does catch fire.

"If you look closely at the butte during the show, you'll see a whole bunch of head lamps, and that's all the firefighters trying to keep these fires small," Derlacki said. "Our biggest fear is this fire gaining momentum, going uphill and threatening everyone at the top of the hill. And that's what we are trying to prevent."

Officials say to please leave the fireworks to the professionals, stay safe, sit back, relax -- and just look up and enjoy.

"We're going to see stuff this year that we haven't seen in years past in Bend," Olsen said. "It's going to be a great show."

The fireworks show starts around 10 p.m. Friday night. The show is synced with music, so you can tune in on the radio on 99.7 The Bull.

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