PORTSMOUTH — Josh Malia and his crew of three other people began preparing for the city’s annual fireworks celebration at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Malia, who works for Atlas Pyrovision Entertainment Group of Jaffrey, said the four-person crew will work throughout the day until they’re totally prepared.
“We’re usually done setup by about five or six, then we wait for show time,” Malia said around noon Wednesday as he and his crew worked in the dog park near South Mill Pond under a cloudless sky.
Portsmouth’s fireworks celebration at the South Mill Pond blasted away around 9:15 p.m.
The fireworks are an alcohol-free family event that’s sponsored by the city and Wilcox Industries.
Malia stated he’s been working with Atlas since 2010 and has worked the Portsmouth celebration “almost every year since then.”
They unload the fireworks off their truck and then “drop the trailer off,” he said as he pointed to a trailer filled with tubes and fireworks.
“The fireworks shoot right out of the trailer. That saves us a lot of rack time,” he said.
Malia’s crews worked to prepare rack after rack filled with tubes stuffed with fireworks in preparation for the 20-minute show.
City officials closed off the tennis and basketball courts, along with the baseball fields and playground areas early Wednesday morning.
He pointed to several rows of fireworks that had already been preloaded to be used in Wednesday night’s finale.
“Everything will be preloaded. It’s connected to an electric match and then we use a special firing panel,” Malia said.
He showed the panel to a visitor and said he and his crew will be about 100 feet away from the fireworks when they start setting them off.
“It’s all wireless,” Malia said Wednesday.
There is less danger dealing with fireworks now because “everything is electronically fired,” which allows the crew to be “at a safer distance,” he said.
“Back when it was hand fired we were right there ... if there’s a blowout now we’re at a safe distance,” he added.
Asked about what type of fireworks they have for the show, Malia laughed and said, “We have every kind you can imagine and then some.”
Malia predicted there will be at least “10-plus something thousand people” attending Wednesday’s fireworks.
“When I pulled in this morning there was already people saving seats,” he said.
“It’s pretty cool, you get that rock star kind of feeling,” he said when asked what it’s like shooting off the fireworks during the show.
He got into the business through his dad “as a fun thing.”
“Then I ended up being a full-time employee,” he said.
Watching the reaction of the crowd is why Malia is in the business.
“Watching the kids, hearing the crowd at the end, everyone loves the show and the finale just blows them away,” he said.
He designs all the shows ahead of time back at the shop in Jaffrey, and then he goes out “and shoots them onsite.”
When the fireworks end, Malia and his crew wait before packing everything up to let all the tubes cool off.
“Then I check every single tube to make sure there’s no shells, then we clean up and pack up,” he said. “The next day we’re on to another town.”
He and his crew will be in Dover Thursday for that city’s fireworks celebration.