Fireworks big draw for next weekend

One of the highlights of the 2013 Ohio River Sternwheel Festival will be the annual fireworks display Saturday night in downtown Marietta.

The Harry J. Robinson Fireworks Display will be presented from 9:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday in the sky over the Ohio River as the fireworks are fired from a barge on the water.

After 30 years under the direction of Robinson, who died in 2011, the fireworks program is in its eighth year under the direction of fireworks chairman Dennis Blauser.

Thousands of fireworks shells will be launched during the fireworks display over the Ohio River Levee. For the past 15 years, Pyrotecnico of New Castle, Pa., has been the fireworks company producing the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival fireworks.

The century-old family business is the fourth largest fireworks company in the nation. Pyrotecnico produces more than 1,500 fireworks displays each year in 38 states and internationally.

As it has in the past, the aerial display will be synchronized with choreographed music which can be heard on WNUS 107.1 FM.

One of the founders of the sternwheel festival, Robinson served as chairman of the fireworks committee since the beginning of the festival in 1975 and was responsible for choosing both the fireworks and the music. At the age of 83, he chose to make 2005 his last year as fireworks chairman, handing the responsibility over to Blauser. The fireworks display was officially renamed in his honor in 2005.

Throughout the history of the fireworks show, Robinson personally chose the music for the radio simulcast. He had a library of thousands of CDs from which he pulled the different types of music he wanted to incorporate, Blauser said.

Blauser is working with Pyrotecnico to jointly develop the musical accompaniment for the fireworks. Blauser recommended tuning in to WNUS at about 9:15 p.m. Saturday so listeners can hear the introduction of the event before the music and fireworks begin.

This year’s musical accompaniment will feature music from the 1980s, with a special emphasis on The Eagles and The Police, Blauser said.

“I’m really excited about this year’s show,” he said.

Blauser said there will be a number of new shells set off by Pyrotecnico for the Sternwheel Festival, along with some special displays during the show that will be synchronized with specific songs in the playlist.

Due to the fireworks preparations, the Williamstown Bridge will be closed to pedestrian traffic from 9 to 10 p.m. during the fireworks display. Vehicle traffic will be not be closed during the show.

The Ohio River will also be closed to river traffic during the fireworks display. The barges used for the fireworks display are provided by Marietta Industrial Enterprises.