New pyrotechnic technology awaits Detroit fireworks fans tonight ... - Crain's Detroit Business

The Ford Fireworks in downtown Detroit tonight will feature the U.S. debut of a pyrotechnic technology used only in Europe until now, enabling a surprise or two during the show.

The new technology enables the creation of longstanding letters in the sky, said Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Co., the Detroit nonprofit that organizes the fireworks and America's Thanksgiving Parade Presented by Art Van.

"We tried doing Ford ovals in previous years, but the integrity of the fireworks was blown away almost immediately with a little bit of wind," Michaels said.

Provided the wind is under 20-25 mph tonight, the new pyrotechnics will produce a readable message, Michaels said. Watch for it midway through the fireworks and again near the end, he said.

Zambelli Fireworks is working this year with internationally known fireworks choreographer Patrick Brault, president of Quebec-based Sirius Pyrotechnics. He has choreographed fireworks for global events including the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and Formula One races and is known for his ability to synchronize fireworks to soundtracks.

The Detroit fireworks show will be bigger this year, adding 1,000 fireworks to bring it to a total of 11,000 explosions.

Need to know: 59th annual fireworks to celebrate Detroit's progress

The display is one of the top shows in America and at a level now, Michaels said, that The Parade Co. is beginning to look into securing television broadcast of the event in markets outside of Detroit. That would put it on a national stage, in the company of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks in New York, which is televised across the country, he said.

Detroit does "world-class, best-in-class events, and people need to know that," he said.

The Ford Fireworks draws hundreds of thousands of people into Detroit each year. That translates to an economic impact of nearly $20 million for that single night, according to a 2013 study done by the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

And that's not including the River Days festival that took place this past weekend, Michael O'Callaghan, executive vice president and COO of the visitors bureau, said in an email.

The benefit from the influx of visitors is likely even greater today, given the number of new restaurants, hotels and other businesses that have opened in recent years in the city, giving attendees more places to spend money.

"There is a newfound excitement in Detroit and it is transforming downtown," Jim Vella, head of the Ford Motor Co. Fund, said in an emailed statement.

Ford's title sponsorship of the fireworks runs through 2018. DTE Energy, Huntington Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan are also returning sponsors this year.

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