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Fireworks light up the community

Although the public didn't know it at the time, the community of Rankin Inlet began moving down the road to a fireworks display it could take great pride in when Rankin Fire Chief Mark Wyatt was asked to handle the display on New Year's Eve two years ago.
As it turned out, Wyatt had an extensive history in producing professional-quality fireworks displays and decided it was time the community ungraded its ability to put on a memorable event after struggling through the first New Year's Eve with family-type fireworks the hamlet had traditionally used for the show.
Wyatt said that first show didn't look horrible or anything of that nature but the fireworks on-hand were not the quality you would use to put on a first-class fireworks show.
He said after getting through that first show, he vowed he would never use that quality of fireworks to put on a display again.
"I've been doing commercial fireworks shows for years, so we decided to train some people in the fire department and a couple more in the recreation department to be able to assist in the delivery of a great show," said Wyatt.
"They all got certified and we've been ordering commercial fireworks ever since; doing a show this past New Year's Eve, then another one at Easter and then our third this New Year's Day.
"The shows have stayed the same size in terms of the size of the mortars being used but we seem to be getting better with our presentation every time we do a show.
"The first show we lit all of the fireworks individually but then, this past April, I started teaching people how to tie them together so that we light one fuse and 10 of them will go off, sequenced in a row, so everything is timed a little better now and our most recent show went really, really well."
The current fireworks display cost a bit more than $4,000 to hold in Rankin Inlet.
Wyatt said the price tag is actually good value for the money.
He said there have been absolutely no safety concerns associated with the display since moving up to the commercial level.
"We take all the necessary precautions that we're supposed to.
"This year, we were scheduled to do the display on New Year's Eve again but our winds were a little more than 40 km/h, gusting to 60 km/h.
"Our threshold is 40 kilometres per hour but, with where we are in town, I don't think I would even do them at 40 km/h because when you send a shell 600 feet up into the air under those conditions, it's going to drift a lot.
"That's why we postponed them, because of the weather, and it was much safer on New Year's Day."
Wyatt said from the feedback he's received, people in the community love the commercial display and now look forward to it.
He said everyone he talked to really thought this year's show was great.
"There were headlights all around the whole of Williamson Lake, which looked pretty impressive to me, but, in terms of how big the crowd actually was, I was too focused on the show itself and making sure the guys were safe with their lighting to really take notice.
"People have been pretty good every show, as far as any safety issues are concerned.
"We have one of our firefighters patrol the lake on a snowmobile and we stay down there from the time we start setting up to make sure everyone's safe.
"We work together with recreation for each of the shows and there is talk at this point of doing another show at Easter but nothing has been confirmed as of yet."