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The Women behind the boom: How Wenatchee celebrates the Fourth

Wenatchee Valley Chamber | 07/15/2019 | Festivals, Visitor Info/Services, Wenatchee Columbia River Valley

Written by Candice Reed

As multicolored peonies, chrysanthemums and willows bloom across the night sky this 4th of July, you might wonder what goes into a firework display from the unseen pyrotechnician and event planner who have choreographed the fun somewhere out there in the dark.

“There was a year that Wenatchee didn’t have a firework display and it was kind of uneventful,” said Kelley Kennedy, CEO/Founder of ImpactEvents, Inc.  “Mayor Frank Kuntz asked me if I wanted to see if I could get the fireworks back into the program and that was six years ago. The community has really supported this celebration and when the program begins, they have no idea what it really takes to put on a show like this.”

Kennedy and her family moved from the Westside where she planned events for corporations such as Microsoft, flying to Singapore and Turkey. 

“That was great for a while, but we wanted to change focus and be more involved with our family and community. Wenatchee was the perfect place for us to settle.”

Kennedy’s husband Kevin is retired and is a full-time volunteer for the Young Life organization.

The event planner has organized a full schedule of fun starting at noon at Walla Walla Point Park and presented by Salcido Connections. The celebrations will include a beach volleyball tournament, live music, food vendors and of course, fireworks!

As all eyes turn to the dark sky and the Wenatchee symphony starts to play, 27-year-old Kylee Boggs—one of the few female pyrotechnicians in Washington State— will begin to work her magic as she sets off a few thousand fireworks into the sky.

“I started working on the show when I was 12,” said Boggs who is behind most of the fireworks displays in local productions as well as shows around the state and in Idaho. “We really couldn’t do this type of show without getting the community involved and all of the generous donations. It really does take a village to put something like this on every year.”

Boggs plans her firework shells to be timed to a single beat of a tune, right to the hundredth of a second, with computer programs and firing panels as her artistry will be visible across the area.

It is believed that sometime in the first century, Chinese alchemists concocted the first fireworks ever, stuffing bamboo stalks with saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur and other ingredients, according to history.com. 

The first fireworks only featured orange and gold, given off by the exploding gunpowder. As the Renaissance transformed and energized European culture from the 14th to 17th centuries, pyrotechnic schools sprang into being. Italian firework artists started speckling the sky with multiple colors by adding trace metals and other additives.

Fast forward to 2016. A modern-day pyrotechnician like Boggs, with the aid of a computer program, can now precisely plot out when, where and how her fireworks go off.

“I love to invite community members down to help me,” said Boggs. “I love to watch the joy in their eyes as the colors light up the sky.”

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