‘It makes you feel good’; Meet the man behind Rockford’s firework show

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Sunday night, downtown Rockford’s sky will be lit up with a spectacular fireworks show. But what does it take to pull off the 30-minute live show? We caught up with the man behind it all.

On July 4th, thousands of fireworks will shoot into the sky overlooking downtown Rockford. After a year off due to the COVID pandemic, the celebration is back.

“Each shell goes up about 100 feet per inch. So, we’re up to about 600 feet on the total distance with 6-inch shells,” said Mike Zuzock of Melrose Pyrotechnics

The show is all thanks to Mike Zuzock. He’s been with Melrose Pyrotechnics for over 20 years. Not only is he in charge of setting off and lighting the fireworks, but he’s also actually designed the entire show–which is synched to music.

“I listen to the music and I decide where I wanna put a hit, you know a cue for that particular point in the song,” said Zuzock.

“So this is a four-inch shell, and you got a lift on the bottom of these shells. When the igniter will light this black match here and shoots it all the way here, it lights the fuse down at the bottom and lights the lift, and the lift bursts it up into the air.”

Mike and his crew got into Rockford at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. They will spend the next two days putting each shell into the motor, the black tube.

There are also electronic ignitors that plug into the firing system. At 9:30 p.m., Sunday night, a computer will help make the magic happen.

“So the computer, once it’s got the sync from the radio station it starts running the program and it shoots as I programmed it to shoot throughout the show,” he explained.

What is Mike’s favorite part of the show? It’s not the burst of light into the night sky–but you! He says your reaction to his creation makes all the hard work worth it.

“At the end when I hear the crowd response, if I hear the crowd, then I know I did my job right. There’s nothing better it makes you feel good,” Zuzock added.

The two biggest pieces of advice are to leave the fireworks to the professionals and don’t forget the music! Since these are synched to music, watching the show without it would be a ‘dud.’

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