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Pyrotechnics professionals worked under the warm Seattle sun on the 3rd of July in preparation for the big show that will light up the night sky on the 4th.

Aboard a massive barge positioned between two tug boats on Lake Union, just off Gas Works Park, about 16 workers spent all day Tuesday prepping for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Seafair Family 4th fireworks display.

GeekWire climbed aboard the barge for a closer look at the thousands of mortars and shells — some as big as 10 inches in diameter — and the work being done to wire more than 10,000 pounds of explosives.

Tom Bates is the production manager for the company in charge of lighting up Seattle’s sky on July 4. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
A worker wires explosive shells back to a control panel aboard the barge. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Many weeks of preparation go into designing the show, according to Tom Bates, the production manager for Canby, Ore.-based Western Display Fireworks. Bates will be the lone worker left aboard one of the tugs on Wednesday, where he’ll ignite the show wirelessly from a special enclosure, triggering 20 minutes worth of explosions at a variety of angles from numerous zones on the barge.

Bates has been at it for more than 15 years and said Seattle’s fireworks display ranks as one of the best in the nation.

GeekWire’s Kurt Schlosser holds up a 10-inch fireworks shell that will be shot into the sky over Lake Union on Wednesday. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

According to Seafair, the opening show sequence will feature a unique water-based component beginning with hundreds of white strobes that float directly on the water’s surface. As the accompanying music builds in intensity the sea of strobes will erupt into a series of twirling silver tourbillions coupled with the same effect in the sky.

The finale will contain thousands of effects originating from the surface of the barge deck to over 1000 feet in elevation and covering and an area nearly 1500 feet across.

Access to Gas Works Park is free for the fireworks show, but reserved seats priced at $40 and $60 are sold for prime viewing spots. Festivities begin at noon and run until 11 p.m. More details on the day’s musical entertainment, food selection and more is available on the Seafair website.

Check out more photos from Tuesday’s preparation below:

The fireworks barge on Lake Union. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
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