Behind the scenes: Louisville's July 4th waterfront celebration - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Behind the scenes: Louisville's July 4th waterfront celebration

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The annual Fourth of July celebration downtown can expect to see at least 35,000 people on Sunday. However, the work and planning begins long before families arrive at the waterfront.

Before the sound of Independence Day lights up the night sky, thousands of fireworks are made and shipped from a plant in Pennsylvania and stored inside a container. They wait in cardboard boxes at an undisclosed location with a layout of what what will be shot and when.

"It's just something about shooting fireworks, you know it's hard to explain because the work is sometimes, you hate it -- a lot of times by the fifth, you hate fireworks -- but usually the next weekend you're doing it again," said Joe Codispoti, a pyrotechnician for Zambelli Fireworks.

Days before the show, Zambelli's pyro crew moves the fireworks to a barge. 

"The hardest part is getting all the equipment on the barges and getting everything laid out so that you can shoot the show the way it's designed to shoot," Codispoti said.

The restricted area is located miles down from where crowds will be watching all the action. 

"With the bigger shows in downtown Louisville, it really looks good to have it on the barge in the middle of the river," he added. "It just gives you a lot better views from the crowd's standpoint."

The fireworks show has a $25,000 price tag. 

"Generally a 10 to 20 minute show still takes most of the day to set up. I think people think that it doesn't, but it's a lot of work and then there's a lot of tear down afterward, and cleanup," Codispoti said.

Planning continues inside the Kentucky Center downtown. 

"Jazz background, the rock background, the folk backgrounds, really everything's represented here," said Teddy Abrams said, music director and conductor for the Louisville Orchestra.

Abrams said his team has worked hard to create a program that reflects not only the orchestra, but a surprise lineup of musicians.

"There are so few opportunities for everybody of all backgrounds, of all different stories, and different ways of life to come together and experience something that's genuinely meaningful -- and that's what the orchestra is here to do," Abrams said.

The Waterfront Development Corporation and the orchestra's show will draw at least 35,000 people. While it's free to attend, the entire show costs $250,000 to produce, made possibly by their sponsors that include Thorntons and Fifth Third Bank.

"If they really knew the amount of hours, the headaches and the discussions -- again everything from the stage to the porta-potties have to be thought about to have a great event -- and parking, and all those things have to be taken into consideration, so if you really dove in behind the scenes, you really would be surprised," Andrew Kipe said, executive director of Louisville Orchestra.

Planning started a year ago and crunch time has come and gone.

"You're trying to marshal troops of all different kinds, like violins here, low brass over there, percussion, electronics, microphones, so you're thinking about how can you make sure all that stays tight and is being played the way we rehearsed it," Abrams said. "It's almost a sporting event, but that's what makes the music sound good."

It's an effort to create an unforgettable experience that tops the ones before.

The show starts at 5 p.m. Sunday with several bands and activities.The Louisville Orchestra takes the stage at 8:30 p.m., followed by fireworks.

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