Rain during the day, hot in the afternoon, more rain threatening at fireworks time!

An unfortunate noon downpour put a slight damper on the fun in Allison Park on July 4—but the food and music continued through the muggy afternoon anyway. Then, the clear sky of the afternoon and early evening gave way to clouds and the threat of another rainstorm on the way from the west, prompting the firemen to start the fireworks show at 9:15 p.m.

That early start caught a few fireworks fans off guard, with some catching the show from their own front yards, as they hadn’t made their way to the lake yet. Put the Herald-Dispatch in that category. Oops, we didn’t get any pictures, but a couple Facebook friends shared the beautiful shots they captured.

The fireworks show featured the addition of technology this year. “When we were talking with the guy we order the fireworks from, he told us there was an opportunity to buy electronic equipment at a reduced price,” explained Aaron Schauman, who along with fellow firefighter Leon Steffl, oversees Sleepy Eye’s show. “The mayor and city manager gave us the go ahead to order some equipment, so for the first time, a good part of the show was wired and set off with the touch of a button.”

For all the many years that the Sleepy Eye Fire Department has set off the fireworks show, each firework was placed in a tube and the fuse was manually lit—resulting in a lot of running back and forth, cleaning out tubes and reloading for the next blast. Schauman said setting off the fireworks electronically is safer for the firefighters and went smoothly for their first time.

“Leon and I went to Rochester earlier this summer to observe and help with an electronic shoot,” said Schauman. “On this first time for us in Sleepy Eye, we learned that set-up takes more time, but shooting the show takes fewer guys.”

The Sleepy Eye firefighters who set of the show volunteer their time and also give up fun family time to provide for the community’s enjoyment. With the new electronic equipment, Schauman expects they will start a bit earlier in the late afternoon, get the show set, and then a good number of the firefighters can leave to enjoy the show with their family. “But, we’ll need them back after the show,” said Schauman. “Clean up takes a lot of time and labor also!”

Three more remotes (the boxes that are wired to the fireworks) are needed to complete the package for Sleepy Eye’s show. Each remote costs $300 (a half-price, late summer discount) if purchased before the end of August. Thank our firefighters for giving up their time, and help make their task safer, by donating for this equipment.