Winterblast event coverage sponsored by London Bridge Resort.
By Becky Maxedon
The bombs bursting in air have ended for yet another year. The 31st Annual Western Pyrotechnics Winter Blast in Lake Havasu City thrilled audiences and featured the latest and greatest in the fireworks industry.
“We’ve seen devices that you wouldn’t see anywhere else,” Western Pyrotechnics Association secretary Dennis Miele said.
With 633 pyrotechnic participants representing not only the Untied States, but Germany, Austria and Canada, as well as the board of directors of the Pyrotechnic Guild International, Miele said there were “hundreds of thousands of dollars in fireworks and pyrotechnic devices” expended over the weekend.
“The recent Guinness world record holder for largest firework ever exploded is in attendance. His name is Jim Widmann. He shot off a 62-inch shell in Steamboat Springs, Colo., earlier this year.
“The mortar they shot the firework out of was 27-feet long and it weighted 7 tons. The firework weighed almost 3,000 pounds,” Miele said. Widmann was one of three team members.
The largest shell fired in Lake Havasu City this weekend was 16 inches, according to Miele.
Honored by fellow pyros with a memorial luncheon and a pyrotechnics show on Sunday was Tom DeWille. DeWille was a pioneer in the development of indoor pyrotechnic shows for rock bands.
His former wife and his sister were present for the memorial.
Former wife Amanda McLean Nixon said, “Tom and I were business partners, friends and upon occasion married for 48 years. We stared a company called Luna Tech in 1972.”
The company began by doing stage lighting and then DeWille started doing fireworks after outdoor concerts. Some of the bands started asking if he could do something closer to the stage, Nixon said.
Nixon said DeWille developed a firing system with a controller and firing pots and devices that could be used on stage.
“He is basically the father of what we refer to as proximate pyrotechnics,” Nixon said.
DeWille worked with bands like KISS, AC/DC, and artists including Tina Turner and Michael Jackson, and many more.
DeWille died in October.
DeWille’s sister Judy Stika said the memorial to her brother Sunday meant a lot to her.
“Tom was interested in chemistry and fireworks. He had a work bench in the basement and my mother was always afraid he was going to blow the house up,” Stika said.
The skies over Lake Havasu City will be quiet until next year during President’s Day weekend when Winter Blast returns to Havasu 95 Speedway at SARA Park.
To view more photos from Winterblast 2020, click here