Frigid temperatures disrupts annual fireworks display

The frigid temperatures changed a lot of people’s New Years Eve plans, including the time of the annual La Crosse fireworks display. Organizers for the event decided to move the show from midnight to 6:00 p.m.

The La Crosse Skyrockers have been putting on the display for 88 years, and have seen a wide range of weather conditions during that time. This time, it was -7 degrees on Grandad Bluff as the La Crosse Skyrockers set up the fireworks.

“Honestly, it’s been a long time since it’s been this cold,” said Marty Schmal, public relations director for the La Crosse Skyrockers.

The group mostly sets off the show on New Year’s Eve, but also does displays on other holidays.

‘We had the one year down at the Fourth of July where we were flooded and we had to completely change where we would normally shoot of the beach,” Schmal said.

Cold weather is not just a matter of making people uncomfortable as they gaze out at the display. When the weather outside is frightful, it also presents a logistical problem while setting up about 400 fireworks.

“We can’t drive anything into the ground, and there’s no snow to brace things off of. It’s really been a challenge this year,” Schmal said.

Since the main show got moved up, they decided to combine the shorter 6:00 p.m. show with the main midnight display.

“It’s going to be abbreviated a little bit to 15 minutes instead of our general 22 minute or 23 minute show. But we will have a full finale,” said Andy Wettstein, a board member of the La Crosse Skyrockers.

And, in order to have a quicker setup, they group has also moved where the fireworks were set off.

“A lot of the major, heavier set pieces we use for our features, we’ve put closer to the top of the bluff instead of the sides so there won’t be as big of a spread of fireworks,” said Jonathan Vermes, a member of the organization.

With a smaller area to set up, that also means an easier clean up once the final firework is set off.

The group says that they don’t plan on breaking tradition again, hoping next year won’t be quite as cold so they’ll be able to shoot of the fireworks again at midnight.