This weekend, the Flaming Lotus Girls brought our Serpent Egg to the annual Western Pyrotechnics Association’s Winter Blast conference. We’d talked about coming to this event for years, and under the good tutelage of Dave X, we finally made it happen.
Winter Blast attracts pyrotechnicians and fireworks enthusiasts from all over North America. Everyone gathers in the dusty speedway of Lake Havasu, AZ to take seminars and workshops, network with each other, swap industry knowledge, get licensed, show off their newest product and celebrate with their community. Imagine a big RV campout party in the gorgeous Arizona desert, golf carts puttering by, the smell of BBQ wafting through the air, and the occasional heart-stopping boom and cloud of dark smoke overhead. At night, the crowd packs into the bleachers to watch the big public performances: carefully orchestrated firework displays, replete with perfectly-timed music and hundreds of different effects.
Winter Blast is very different from the shows we’re used to doing: we don’t look like the typical Winter Blast attendee, we don’t do fireworks, and what we represent is a bit outside the norm for this crowd. But from the minute we started unloading the trailer, people came over to ask us what we were about, what that hose carried, what fuel we used, what that pressure vessel does… People were genuinely interested in us. We got solid questions right off the bat, and quickly found common ground.
On Saturday afternoon, we gave a talk called “Shoot Fire Like a Girl” and explained to a fully packed tent all about how we operate, the fuels and colorants we use, the nitty gritty of our plumbing systems, how our control systems work, and how our Serpent Egg’s blowdown shooter system works. We talked for over an hour and could’ve easily gone on longer, especially since the audience had plenty of good questions for us.
Our typical shooter shows do not involve carefully-timed cue sheets, or much coordination at all outside of our own fuel depot. But for our public shooter shows, we were blasting off our big fire plumes in time with the fireworks, so we needed to be right in synch with them. On Friday night, we did a big show with Dave X. It began with him narrating a hilarious creation myth of how the Egg came to arrive in the middle of the Lake Havasu speedway. Then the Egg’s shell blossomed open to smoke effects and creepy music, and the fireworks and shooter duet dazzled the crowd.
The next night, we did a completely different show with fireworks curator Craig Cutright and the Devastating Pyrotechnics crew. This performance was really unique for several reasons. It didn’t rely on the classic and predictable fireworks music like American rock ‘n roll, Disney hits, and other catch-all favorites — they chose a totally different artistic sound as their audio backdrop. Using fire art as a centerpiece grounded the performance nicely, as it brought the audiences’ focus from a central spot on the ground up to the sky and back.
“This show really broke the molds for the WPA event,” says Dave X, who has decades of experience in this field. “I think it will have ripples through the industry.”
Sitting in the fuel depot, we were 200’ away from where the fireworks were launched from — it was so close we had to lay on our backs to see it all. It was a tremendous display.
During our downtime, we helped our friends The Jackalopes dismantle stock fireworks and reassemble them into vastly improved (and much crazier) pinwheel ground effects. We also got to shoot off Class B fireworks, and see how mortars, mines, comets and fountains look from right up close.
Winter Blast was a very special event and we had a fabulous time. We are especially proud of our own FLG Dave X for bringing in the most new WPA members for the year, and for introducing us to this crazy mix!