Big Bang: Lake Linden readies for annual fireworks display

LAKE LINDEN – The Lake Linden fireworks display might be the most impressive in the Copper Country, but it doesn’t come together without effort.

Putting the annual show together is the domain of the Lake Linden Fire Department. Tuesday night, fireworks committee chair Andrew Parker and department Chief Ron Williamson were preparing the site, doing weedwhacking around the shell tubes and taking the tubes out to dump water.

Parker, who’s been chair for three years, said it’s common for him to use vacation days for work around the site.

The five-person crew launches fireworks across the lake from the village park at dusk on July 3. They start setting up at 11 a.m. the day of the fireworks, loading up equipment. They take turns at the site throughout the day.

When Parker joined the department in 1996, the work was still being done manually with an eight-person crew. Now, he said, about 90 percent of it is computerized.

Most of it is controlled by Parker, who sits back from the site with a control box.

“It’s a lot harder now than it was before,” Williamson said. “There’s a lot more prep time now. Before, we just stuck them in the ground, and we’d just run up and down and reload them. After one goes off, we’d set another one in there.”

Neither Parker or Williamson know for sure how many years the fireworks display have gone. The oldest documentation they’ve found is an order form from Spielbauer from 1962.

Parker estimates about 4,000 to 5,000 people watch the display.

“You’ve got people all along the shoreline, as far as you can see,” he said. “Some people just sit on their porches and watch it from town.”

Parker said Lake Linden’s display has the largest fireworks order in the area – and, with 10-inch shells, the largest fireworks in them.

“That’s what the crowd wants to see,” he said. “That’s what everybody comes down for. In this case, bigger is better.”

For safety reasons, they water the site down beforehand, and Parker mows it to get rid of dead grass that would be more likely to spark a flame. In addition to having one member who watches for spot fires, the department brings two fire apparatuses.

The department encourages donations for the festivities, which are used on the next year’s fireworks display. Providing entertainment for kids and families is important to the department, Williamson said.

“We strictly enforce when these people come on the fire department that you will be here on the Fourth to help with this celebration, or you won’t be on the force,” he said.

“Everybody understands their job. We have a really good crew. I can’t say enough about them.”