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Paynesville Press - June 27, 2001

Boaters need to stay clear of islands
for fireworks display

By Michael Jacobson

The annual fireworks display for the Fourth of July on Lake Koronis this year – which actually will be presented on Saturday, June 30 – should be bigger and better than ever, featuring 12-inch fireworks and electronically discharged fireworks in the finale.

Previously, eight-inch fireworks have been the largest used on Koronis. The majority of the fireworks display will still be launched manually from First Island by members of the Paynesville Community Club (formerly the Paynesville Area Jaycees), which is why the show may seem slower than electronically-fired displays. Fireworks are fired as fast as safely possible by hand.

This year's grand finale will feature electronic discharges. It will also feature the use of both First and Third islands, meaning boaters will need to stay clear of both.

Bob Brauchler, who is licensed by the state fire marshal to shoot fireworks, said safety is an utmost concern…for the volunteers running the display and for the spectators. "The only reason we do it is fun," Brauchler explained. "If someone gets hurt, it won't be fun."

A clear area of 1,200 feet is needed from the islands. "If they're downwind, it wouldn't hurt to stay further than that because if you set it up in the wind, it's going to drift more than normal," said Brauchler.

With its hill, First Island – owned by Craig and Dave Heitke – provides a perfect place for firing the fireworks show, but boaters need to stay clear, said Brauchler. "What gets boaters in trouble is we're at 100 feet of elevation, so when we shoot off fireworks, the wind can get it and play tricks," he added.

Using the southern tip of Third Island as part of the finale, boaters will need to stay clear of that island, too. "If someone used to anchor next to Third, they need to find someplace else," said Brauchler.

The fireworks have two charges, explained Brauchler. One provides elevation, sending the firework in the air, and the other fuels the burst of colors. While rare, it is possible for that second charge not to go, and the firework could fall like a rock. "That's why it's so important to have no one in that area," said Brauchler

. Once the fireworks explode, Brauchler continued, "there's very little left. You might get a piece of paper once in a while." A burning shred of paper, though, could be dangerous landing in a boat with gasoline tanks.

The fireworks supervisors, Bruce Puppe and Brauchler, are charged with the safety of the show and have the power to stop the fireworks if conditions are too dangerous. This is something they could do if boaters are too close to the islands.

Brauchler doesn't really understand the desire of a few boaters to crowd the island. "The people I've talked to have said it's better to watch from far away because you get a double effect of the firework in the air and the reflection on the water," he explained.

The annual display uses $5,000 worth of fireworks in a matter of minutes. The city of Paynesville, Paynesville Township, the Koronis Lake Association, local businesses, and individuals contribute to cover the cost of the display. The Commu-nity Club also has firecracker cans in local businesses to collect funds for the display.

Volunteers from the Community Club prepare the islands for the display – trimming branches, mowing grass, raking dry grass, and burying the mortars – and load and light the fireworks. The fireworks are kept in covered trash cans for protection, and then runners – clad in fire-proof fire department coats and snowmobile helmets – run them to the mortars for discharge.

If it rains on Saturday night, the make-up date for fireworks is Saturday, July 7.

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