“I want to affect every single person here,” said Wilcox, head pyrotechnician for Lantis Fireworks. “It doesn’t matter if they are crying or laughing, just so long as we reach them.”
Lantis Fireworks and Lasers, a Utah-based entertainment organization, has provided the Nugget with its Star Spangled Sparks fireworks show for 10 years. The 13th annual Fourth of July celebration in Sparks today draws thousands of people to Victorian Square, which is where Wilcox said the best view is.
“The best seat in the house, besides mine of course, is going to be Victorian Square,” he said.
Beth Cooney, executive director of marketing for the Nugget, said the show is designed to bring everyone down to Victorian Square where there will be entertainment for the whole family.
“Our goal each year is to top what we did the previous year,” Cooney said. “We have joined with the city in a collaborative effort to make it better and better each year.”
The festivities will kick off at 4 p.m. and live music will begin at 4:30 p.m. beginning with the Mark Sexton Band followed by the Whitney Myer Band. A kids carnival, filled with face painting, balloon art food vendors and more will help pass time until the fireworks begin at about 9:30 p.m.
Cooney said parking is always an issue every year for the event, which happens in what she describes as a “couple intense hours” compared to many other events held in Sparks.
“We always tell people to get here early and relax then wait a few minutes after the show before they leave because it becomes so congested with everyone trying to get out at once,” she said, adding that attendees can take advantage of free shuttle service between 6 and 11 p.m. from Legends at the Sparks Marina to avoid congested parking near the Nugget.
Along with their partnership with Lantis for the event, Cooney said the Nugget works with several organizations to ensure security, cleanup and fire safety. The several months of planning bring all those involved together in what Cooney said operates “like a family,” which is the key to success for the entire event.
“We love to hear the people cheering and having fun, that’s why we’re here,” Wilcox said. “The kids are where life is at and if we can make a kid smile then we have done our job.”
Wilcox has been a pyrotechnician for 20 years and will be joined today by his wife, Joye, and his best friend as they work different parts of the show. He said fireworks will be launched from the roofs of both Nugget towers and from a rail cart setup in between them.
To Wilcox, a firework show is a childhood memory that almost everyone can share. And though his job as a pyrotechnician is only a hobby, he is glad to spend his time serving others.
“I’m still a kid at heart and I see things through the eyes of a child,” he said. “(Playing with fireworks) is something we all did as a kid and I just get to live out the fantasy a little bit more than most people.”