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4,000 rounds of fireworks a night for 3 nights

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Supervising the setup on the roof of the Capitol building for fireworks displays for West Virginia's 150th birthday, Rick Tyler said this would be one of the bigger shows Zambelli Fireworks will put on this year.

"It will compare to [July 4th] in a lot of bigger cities, and some of the big shows we do in Florida," Tyler, Zambelli's southeast operations manager, said of the shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

How big? Try more than 4,000 fireworks shells a night, according to Tyler.

"It changes from night to night, but there's thousands of shells each night," he said.

In addition to the fireworks to be launched from the roof of the main Capitol, on the east and west sides of the dome, there also will be 180-degree displays on the dome itself -- above and below the colonnade columns, he said.

Using the Capitol as a launching pad for fireworks won't be a first for the internationally known fireworks company. In 1997, West Virginia hosted the Southern Legislative Conference, and closed out an evening reception for legislators and their families at the Capitol with a Zambelli Fireworks show. Since that was not a public event, the show was not widely publicized, and many Charlestonians were startled by an unanticipated pyrotechnics display that Sunday evening.

This time, the public is invited to each of the three shows, which will be coordinated with the 3-D film, "A Century and a Half of West Virginia Pride," which will be projected onto the Capitol building.

Chelsea Ruby, executive director of the state's Sesquicentennial Commission, said Zambelli coordinated with Monster Media, the producers of the 3-D Film, to synchronize the film and fireworks, down to matching color schemes.

Each evening's show will be different, Ruby said.

"If you come out Thursday, and say, 'That's really great. I want to come back,' you'll see something different Friday or Saturday," she said.

Each show, beginning at 10 p.m. each evening, will run about 20 minutes, with about a one-minute transition featuring the 3-D film and the fireworks show.

Tyler said a crew of eight, assisted by West Virginia National Guardsmen, has spent the past two days setting up equipment, and will spend about 10 to 12 hours in final preparations Thursday.

"At that time, I've got so much cable on the ground, I can't have anyone up here," he said atop the Capitol roof. "There will be about two miles of wiring connecting the dozens of launching racks."

The 150th birthday celebration begins with a 1:50 p.m. ceremony Thursday on the south steps of the Capitol, and continues through the third presentation of the 3-D film and fireworks Saturday evening.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220. 


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