Saturday, July 3, 2010 | 2:12 p.m.
- When: Sunday, July 4 at 9 p.m.
- Where: Aliante Station, Fiesta Rancho, Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock Resort, Texas Station
- Best Place to View: Aliante Station – hotel valet/parking lot, Fiesta Rancho – parking garage rooftop, Green Valley Ranch – backyard pool area, Red Rock Resort – pool area and amphitheater, Texas Station – parking lot C off Rancho entrance
In a gravel parking lot next to the Green Valley Ranch resort, a team of technicians assembled racks of guns and loaded them with shells Saturday in preparation for Station Casinos’ Fourth of July Blast at five area casinos.
The vocabulary sounds like the men and women are working in a war zone, but Jamie Graham grinned when explaining his attraction to explosives.
“I started off setting a garage on fire,” the Minneapolis native said as he dropped another firework, or “shell,” into a cylindrical tube that the crew calls a gun. “I figured I should channel that into something more creative.”
Graham and 16 other professionals, led by chief pyrotechnician Larry Goetz, set up the show, choreographed by the Grucci family, at five Station Casinos across the valley. Residents can see their work on display at Aliante Station, Fiesta Rancho, Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock Resort and Texas Station.
The first fuse will spark at about 9 p.m.
Rigging the meticulously choreographed display requires four days, about 700 hours and nine miles of wire. Efforts must be taken to coordinate each firework’s detonation with the show’s soundtrack, Goetz said, working backward from the shell’s break to liftoff.
This year’s music will feature a number of patriotic classics, from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” with Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder adding some flavor.
A computer-generated script will engineer the show, although its wizardry would fizzle without Goetz’s crew. Each shell is numbered and placed in a particular gun to ensure it takes off at the right moment.
The technicians on Saturday were loading many of the well-known fireworks effects: peonies and chrysanthemums, the classic spherical displays with bright stars; and kamuros, a tight burst of golden and silver stars.
Graham compared the assembly and wiring to a painter preparing his canvas.
“It has a certain satisfaction,” he said.
At the end of the day, what is Goetz’s favorite moment?
“Detonation, absolutely,” he said with a laugh. “That’s why we do it. It’s very powerful stuff.”
The Grucci family, which has coordinated displays in Las Vegas for more than two decades, began its fireworks business in Italy. It has produced shows at seven presidential inaugurations and several Olympic Games.
Spectators can tune in to 96.3 KKLZ, 102.7 KCYE, 105.7 KOAS or 107.9 KVGS to catch the soundtrack.
Closer to the Strip, fireworks events are planned Sunday night at Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay and the Las Vegas Hilton. A schedule of events is available here.