Homer was treated to a second year of fireworks in 2020, just a day after they were originally set to go off.
The crowdfunded fireworks display was delayed by one day to the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 1 at Mariner Park. The organizers postponed the show due to a blizzard and high winds on New Year’s Eve.
This is resident Aaron Weisser’s second year putting on the fireworks show. Having grown up overseas in Manila, Philippines, Weisser recalled the large fireworks display he enjoyed watching there every year. He felt fireworks were just something that was missing from Homer’s New Year’s Eve festivities, so in 2018 he said he walked into city hall to see about putting on a show of his own.
Last year’s display drew hundreds more people than Weisser had been expecting, he said — something close to 500 cars parked on the Homer Spit to watch the display set off at Mariner Park. This year he estimates there were probably fewer viewers due to the cold and wind, but said the police chief, fire chief and harbor master all signed off on the fireworks plan this year because the event turned out bigger than anticipated.
The turnout has confirmed Weisser’s “suspicions that Homer really wants fireworks,” he said.
Weisser puts on the show by crowdfunding to pay for the fireworks. This year, he was able to purchase 100 boxes of fireworks with about $7,500 donated by the community. That’s more than twice 2018’s donation of $3,200.
It cost about $1,900 to organize and put on the fireworks show, Weisser said.
The funds were supplied by more than 100 families and six local businesses.
Weisser had about nine people on the crew actually lighting the fireworks, again at Mariner Park, as well as four people helping to direct parking traffic and another dozen or so family and friends helping with set up and the all important clean up.
The fireworks show was originally scheduled for New Year’s Eve, but was pushed back by a day to New Year’s Day in the evening when Homer was hit with a blizzard and winds of up to 40 miles per hour. The wind was still blowing snow around town as the time for the rescheduled show inched closer, and Weisser said he and other organizers had to make a call about whether to push through or not. The fireworks can’t be left overnight after they’ve been set up, he said.
“Anything under 20 miles an hour wind, you can shoot fireworks,” Weisser said.
He said the wind ended up blowing at about 10-15 miles per hour by the time the show came around at 8 p.m. Weisser and the rest of the crew didn’t really notice the cold, though.
“Once you start firing that many fireworks, you’re totally unaware of the world around you,” he said.
Weisser said he’s grateful for the community support for the display. Some people who donated to the fireworks told Weisser they wouldn’t even be in town for it but wanted to contribute, he said.
Weisser is thankful for “the enthusiasm of so many families to jump on and say, let’s make a contribution and then we can all have a few minutes of fun fireworks.”