To abide by social distancing recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Big Bang Boom Committee looked at several locations as an alternative launch site for its Saturday, July 4, celebration that would allow for optimal viewing of the display across the city and surrounding area. A spot near the wind turbine on the Northeast Community College campus just off Victory Road will serve as the launch location for a drive-in style show to commemorate the group’s 45th annual event.
“We asked two questions – ‘How can we do it and where can we do it,” said Don Wisnieski, president of Big Bang Boom, as he and other volunteers began work Thursday to set up the display. “We had about seven locations we considered, but we then narrowed it down to Northeast because the venue has hard surfaced parking lots and it has the proper elevation. Just look at the view.”
Wisnieski said they did have to change the show from what was originally planned. All of the funds that would have been spent on ground-type displays were used to purchase additional aerial shells. Although there will be no ground or water displays this year, Wisnieski said the aerial show will be phenomenal.
“We have brought back some six-inch shells as well as some eight-inch shells that we have never done before in Norfolk. We’ll run over 100, six-inch shells and 10 eight-inch shells, which can go as high as 1,000 feet, so it’s really going to make it a spectacular show.”
Wisnieski said Northeast Community College has been “golden” to work with in making sure the show takes place this year.
“When it came time to find an exact location on campus, discussing security, finding parking lot hosts - the staff has been great in helping us. It’s been very easy for both parties to help with each other’s requests,” he said. “President Barrett and her team have been wonderful to work with.”
Wisnieski said depending on the elevation, residents who are in locations up to 40-miles away will be able to see portions of the show, which he describes as the largest public fireworks display in Nebraska on July 4 this year. Many communities cancelled or scaled back their displays due to the pandemic
Area residents are invited to watch the fireworks display off-campus from the comfort of their homes or of those of family and friends. Wisnieski said the committee will fire a test shell at 9:45 p.m., on Friday, July 3, so residents can determine if they will be able to see the displays Saturday night from their location. In addition, two, four-inch “Titanium Salute” shells will be fired at precisely 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 4.
Meanwhile, Northeast Community College will open over 1,600 parking lot spaces on mostly the southern portion of its campus at 801 E. Benjamin Ave., at 7 p.m. Saturday evening to allow the public the opportunity to have a closer view of the display. Access to the campus will only be allowed from the entrances off Benjamin Ave; the entrance on Victory Road will be closed to the public.
Families are invited to watch while remaining in or on their vehicles in the Northeast parking lots. Lawns and fields on campus will not be open for walk-in viewing. The Big Bang Boom pre-show begins at 9:45 p.m. Saturday, with the main display starting at 10 p.m.
In addition, there will be no concessions available on campus, but those viewing the display from their vehicles are encouraged to continue to support local businesses by picking up their favorite food and snacks on the way to the show. Northeast buildings will not be open, but a limited number of portable toilets and trash containers will be available during the event.
Music for the Big Bang Boom fireworks display will once again be broadcast on several Norfolk radio stations - 106KIX, Lite Rock 97.5, The New 94 Rock and US92. For those who will not be able to watch the fireworks in person, the show will be broadcast on television on News Channel Nebraska.
The Big Bang Boom Committee relies on donations to put on the show each year, but this year, however, they have seen a 40% decline in the number of people donating.
“We understand that the pandemic had a lot to do with that, so on Saturday night, we’ll do a big push on our tag line, ‘Just a buck makes it happen,’” Wisnieski said. “We need to keep this tradition of having a show each year going.”
Donations will be accepted at Northeast on Saturday, but Wisnieski encourages members of the public, including those gathered at watch parties, to take a collection and send contributions to, Big Bang Boom, P.O. Box 1094, Norfolk, Neb., 68702. More information may also be found at bigbangboom.org.
Leah Barrett, president of Northeast, said the college is pleased to be able to assist the Big Bang Boom Committee to hold its show this year.
“Northeast is here to serve the people of the entire region and this is yet another way our college community can give back to the community as a whole,” said Barrett, who will be observing her first Fourth of July in Norfolk this year. “I have heard so much about how the Big Bang Boom Committee puts on a great show every year and my family and I can’t wait to see what they have in store in the skies over Northeast Saturday night.”
Stacey Aldag, a volunteer with the Big Bang Boom Committee, works on a mortar shell on the Norfolk campus of Northeast Community College Thursday afternoon in preparation of the group’s 45th annual Independence Day fireworks show. Aldag is a math instructor at the college. Saturday’s show was moved from Skyview Lake to the Northeast campus to abide by COVID-19 social distancing recommendations. The launch site on the Northeast property sits at a higher elevation, which will allow for optimal viewing of the display across the community and surrounding area.