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Local Pastor Continues Crowd-Funded New Year's Eve Fireworks Show

Lisa Linegar

Nearly $15,000 in fireworks to be lit starting at 8 p.m. Friday night.

Homer’s fourth annual crowd-funded fireworks show at Mariner Park is shaping up to be another aerial spectacular. Set for 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, organizer Aaron Weisser, one of the pastors at Church on the Rock, said $12,500 has already been raised for purchase of fireworks.

He spoke with KBBI’s Jay Barrett about how it all got started, kind of by accident.

"So I started in 2018 and honestly, it was sort of a wonderful accident. I went down to City Hall asked if there was any way that I could apply for a permit to to shoot fireworks from Mariner Park and I believe I put on my original application that I expected maybe a hundred and hundred fifty people because I thought if I reach out family and friends, I'm sure a few extra people will show up. And so they gave me the permit and I thought I should I should create something on Facebook so that I can kind of get the word out. to you know people that I know around town and the last thing that you decide when you're creating a Facebook event is if you want the event visible to the public or just to your friends, and I thought well If any of my family or friends want to share this with someone else that would need to be public so I clicked public. And here we are it's our fourth year and each year. The funding base has grown which means the show has grown and it's all through contributions community members and then local businesses that have jumped on the wagon and helped us put on an awesome show," Weisser said.

"Well, what kind of show is it? Do you need a licensed pyro technician for this or you using consumer grade fireworks? What are you doing," Barrett asked.

"Yeah. That's right. It's the latter, so I don't have a pyro license. So I'm just collecting money and then buying consumer grade fireworks stuff that you can buy over the counter from I actually buy a little bit from an outfit in Florida and then I buy the bulk of it through gorilla fireworks up in Houston, but it's all stuff that anyone can buy we just especially I think last year was the first year that we did all of the Sort of the top tier class of fireworks, which is called the 500 gram here. We do all the bigger ones because we have people watching from all the way up, you know up on top of skyline. We got we got feedback from people in long-term care that are watching from their windows. So the the taller the show is the bigger the fireworks the more it can be joined or or enjoyed from from greater distances," Weisser said.

"You mentioned that first year was very popular. How many people showed up that time? And how many have you got showing up at Mariner park or all along the spit," Barrett asked.

"So the first year we had I believe it was just over 500 cars. On the spit for the show the second year was the blizzard year and we had a little bit less. I think it was like around 400 cars last year. We had close to 800 cars that came off of the spit after the show. Someone was counting at the base of the spit. And then we've heard reports that that Skyline a lookout above East Hill was an absolute traffic jam. So people are watching from all directions. There's a couple of notes that I would add pertaining to that one is every year. We have people that try to watch from Bishop's Beach and from Baycrest.
"And for whatever reason the angle on those two places is not right. And so we always have a couple people reach out and say oh man, disappointed we thought we would be able to see it from there. But apparently you can't watch it from Bishops and you can't watch it from Baycrest. So that's number one. But number two so the show that eight o'clock and after 7:30, it gets really difficult to find a place to park and get to the show. I would really strongly encourage anyone no matter where you're planning to park and watch the show from to show up early to show up before 7:30 and get situated. But also, I would encourage everyone that's coming. If you can make it on foot down to the parking and grab a hot drink or a hot snack and watch the show from there," he said.

Weisser added that those hot drinks and snacks will be provided by Captain’s Coffee. The city will be placing extra Port-a-Potties at Mariner Park, as well as near Kevin Bell Arena, and at the parking area near the base of the Spit Road. This year, the 18-minute show will be accompanied by music played on K-WAVE, a local commercial radio station.

Information on making contributions to the fireworks, is available on the group’s Facebook page.

Jay Barrett, KBBI's new News Director should be a familiar voice to our listeners. He's been contributing to Kenai Peninsula news for the last three years out of KDLL Kenai, and was the voice of The Alaska Fisheries Report from KMXT for 12 years. Jay worked for KBBI about 20 years ago as the Central Peninsula Reporter at KDLL.