Fire up the grill, pack up the van or break out your best red, white and blue—whatever it is you plan to do this weekend, you’ll want to be sure to tune in to the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. Celebrating 40 years of ohhs, ahhs, and wows, this year’s event promises to be one the of the most innovative and unique yet. Here to give us the full scoop is the Group Vice President of Macy’s Parade & Entertainment, Amy Kule…
mBLOG: This year, the show is on the East River. Is there a prime viewing spot we should know about? Where do you typically watch the show?
AK: The great thing about seeing the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks in person is that there are so many vantage points that offer unique views of the show. A good rule of thumb is to select a location that has an unobstructed view of the sky above the river near the barge locations. In this year’s case, that is in Midtown between 14th and 42nd Streets, and in the Seaport district below the Brooklyn Bridge. I watch the show with the MPEG (Macy’s Parade and Entertainment Group) team from our command center adjacent to the River’s edge. The team is on pins and needles up to the moment the first blaze skyrockets into the air and then excitedly reacts to see all elements bursting and unfolding before them; a year’s worth of work coming to life 1,000 feet in the sky. There is no practice run, no take-two and the pride of the total team is palpable.
mBLOG: And it’s the 40th Anniversary! Can you share one of your favorite moments from over the years?
AK: I’ve enjoyed the special partnerships we’ve been able to create over the years with various artists and distinguished musicians. Last year, we worked with the United States Air Force Band, and Gloria and Emilio Estefan; a few years before that, Usher was our guest musical curator. The team and I went deep into the desert to test some new pyro and technology with him and his two young sons. Usher became a little boy himself at the controls of the launch board. Additionally, I personally enjoy working with NBC, our hosts and on air musical talent bringing the national television show to life.
mBLOG: How far out do you start planning for the event?
AK: The time it takes to plan each Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show really depends on what we hope to achieve with the show from a creative standpoint. We are always on the lookout for new technology, new firework designs and effects, and ways that we can enhance the show, so it’s an ongoing process. Our position along the River is also a factor. However, the day-to-day planning of the musical score, logistics of where the barges will be, the television production and all of the elements that make our fireworks the biggest and best in the nation, take a solid year to execute.
mBLOG: What kind of pyrotechnics can we expect to see?
AK: Once again, we have a trove of special effects planned for this year’s show. Over 50,000 shells designed to tell our story. You’ll see many new shells including multi-colored transformation ghosts, which are shells that explode in one color, disappear and reappear in a different part of the sky in a completely different color. Macy’s magic! We’ll also have the ever-popular happy faces but this time with blinking eyes. One of the effects we are most excited about will be the spinning pinwheel of fireworks that will explode on the water’s edge as they spin in several directions.
mBLOG: Is there a particular part of the show you enjoy the most?
AK: My favorite moments are twofold and are repeated every year. The first is taking a moment about 10 minutes after the first shell is launched to look around and witness the unparalleled joy on the faces all around me as well as seeing the millions of people on each side of the River marveling at the spectacle before them. A gift only Macy’s is able to give to the city and the country. The other highlight is celebrating each year’s success with the MPEG team. Everyone has an equal hand in bringing the show to life and shares in the shows final success. Their individual joy and sense of pride is pure gratification. From our Macy’s employee volunteers to our Ops, Creative, Press, Partnership Marketing, Parade Studio, Special Events, Social and Advertising (and even accounting!), pride and gratitude sprinkled all around.
mBLOG: What would you like to see become part of the Fireworks in the future?
AK: Wow! So many things. But they’ll need to remain a secret until next year.