Rochester’s 4th of July fireworks designer hopes to ‘lift people out of their seats’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Fireworks are synonymous with the Fourth of July – and the City of Rochester’s annual display is set to go off at 10 p.m.

The dazzling show is put on by Young Explosives. Its eight-person crew has been working on set up by the Broad Street bridge since noon, but the prep work began long before that.

David Sylvester designed Wednesday’s show. He spent more than 40 hours deciding which fireworks go off at specific times.

“So we have about 500 red, white, and blue shells going up and each one of them has a salute, which is just a loud bang that goes with it, so it should really lift people out of their seats,” he said.

It’s a trade secret to say exactly how many explosions you’re going to see, but there will be at least 1,500. Each of those firework shells gets shot out of a big cylinder called a mortar.

While some of the shells come premade, others were hand designed by Young Explosives’ artisans in Canandaigua.

Sylvester has been working with Young Explosives for 26 years. For 10 of those years, he’s been the main brain behind Rochester’s iconic Fourth of July celebration.

“At times, you feel like a rock star. A lot of times when we’re done shooting, there’s a big roar from the crowd and I’ve got to admit, you know, I never been on stage, I’m not a performer, but when I hear that crowd cheer, I can understand why a lot of people are in the entertainment business,” Sylvester said.

He says that while sometimes they light the shells by hand, the Fourth of July show will be run through a computer.

For a show this large, they’ll be bringing out the big guns – pun intended – to make sure everything goes smoothly.

The best place to watch is from either the Broad Street or Court Street bridge, but anywhere along the Genesee River should provide a good vantage point.