First Look

Things That Go Boom in the Sky


Photography by Douglas Levere & Ariel Namoca

Thousands of red-, white- and blue-clad revelers descended on UB’s North Campus again this summer for the Town of Amherst’s Independence Day Celebration, one of the largest Fourth of July fireworks displays in the region. According to Matt Shaw, owner of Skylighters of WNY, the fully scripted and computer-automated show is unique—and more complex than the typical display since it’s synched to music.

While spectators gazed into the black canvas above to see the “chrysanthemums,” “golden willows” and “salutes” paint the sky, Shaw and his team were preoccupied with every detail on the ground. “We’re so busy looking everywhere else, we don’t even get to see the fireworks,” Shaw says. “Our enjoyment is hearing the crowd go crazy.”

By the Numbers

            100+: Hours of work that go into the display before it reaches the site
            14: Hours spent preparing the display on the day of the event
            30: Minutes of showtime
            800: Height, in feet, reached by the display
            7,380: Number of fireworks used in the show