Homer residents looking for a good, old-fashioned fireworks display to bid farewell to 2020 are in luck.
Local resident Aaron Weisser is organizing his third annual fireworks display for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration. The show, taking place at 8 p.m. in Mariner Park on Homer Spit Road, will be live streamed on Facebook and supplemented with a commercial-free, live radio soundtrack provided by Peninsula Radio. Listeners can tune in to K-WAVE 104.9 to enjoy the program.
In-person viewing is free, and participants are encouraged to wear their masks and social distance if viewing the display outdoors or in their vehicles.
The fireworks will be delayed in the event of difficult weather conditions, including heavy winds, rain, or snowfall, and will be rescheduled when the weather conditions improve.
Weisser has been advertising the crowdfunding campaign for the fireworks display primarily through a Facebook event page titled “Homer’s Crowdfunded New Year’s Eve Fireworks FANTASTICAL!!” This page provides all the event details and allows people to express their level of interest in attending the show. Peninsula Radio is expected to air several public service announcements advertising the show, as stated by Weisser, although a surge in donations has decreased the need for extra advertising.
Weisser grew up in the Philippines experiencing fireworks as an essential part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. As a result, he has made it a passion of his to bring fireworks to Homer.
“It’s actually just been a super fun little side project to have over the holiday that people really, really get into,” Weisser said. “I think this year in particular, people are extremely enthusiastic about an outdoor activity.”
The Facebook page provides four ways to make financial contributions for the crowdfunding campaign. Interested donors can either pay directly to Weisser’s PayPal, paypal.me/WeisserFireworks, drop off funds in-person to the Weisser Homes office located at 1091 East End Road, pay through Weisser’s Venmo, @Weisser-Fireworks-2020, or send funds through Facebook Messenger with “Fireworks” in the memo.
“Most of the families who started giving the first year have continued each year and we’ve just grown from there,” Weisser said. “The other thing is we have quite a few businesses that have jumped in and given a larger amount.”
These businesses are publicly thanked for their contributions in the “discussion” tab of the Facebook event page, according to Weisser. For donations of or exceeding $300, contributors are recognized as members of the “Super Duper Diamond Encrusted Elite Pyro’s Club” and will receive a mention during the K-WAVE 104.9 broadcast during the show.
“We try to give acknowledgement to those businesses for their extra contribution,” Weisser said. “A few of those contributions make a huge difference.”
All regular donor contributions fund the purchase of fireworks, while other event expenses are covered through personal or external means.
Contributions totaled $7,505 for the 2019 show after just 11 days of crowdfunding from Dec. 20 to Dec 31. This year’s campaign, started on Dec. 1, has seen contributions surpass $6,593 as of Dec. 18 with just under two weeks left to raise funds. Weisser has set the cap for accepted contributions at $10,000 for this year’s display, planning to close funding methods if and when that goal is met.
“This year, we are buying from two sources… an outfit in Florida, and Gorilla Fireworks,” Weisser said. “They’re expensive. The biggest fireworks we shoot off are $200 a pop. The really good ones that you can see from Skyline Drive are definitely more expensive, but are a lot more enjoyable for a big crowd. ”
Weisser has received support from both the City of Homer and the Homer Chamber of Commerce in terms of community involvement with the event. He has also organized an entire crew and set of firing teams to manage the show, audience, and cleanup.
“They actually helped us with a lot of the behind-the-scenes … event planning (and) event organizing from a community perspective,” Weisser said. “There’s a lot of planning that goes into it ahead of time, working with the city to make sure of a safe event for everyone.”
The show will have six different two-person firing teams with synchronized schedules for the show. Each team consists of a “timer” responsible for maintaining the schedule, and a “lighter” in charge of igniting the fireworks, according to Weisser. There will also be a crew ready to direct vehicle traffic from the expected in-person viewers stretching from Mariner Park to the base of the Spit, as well as to help to clean up the location after the end of the show.
“Honestly, it’s just like innocent, good fun- something that is out of the ordinary,” Weisser said. “It’s a good, fun, safe way to end the year with the community (and) everyone involved.”