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Minocqua looking for ‘more bang for the buck’ fireworks show


MINOCQUA – A more robust Fourth of July fireworks show may be in the works for Minocqua, following this week’s town board meeting.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim said despite the town spending $19,000 on the fireworks show, some viewers are coming away less than impressed. Among them is perhaps supervisor John Thompson. He said that after viewing the town’s 2021 show, he took his boat over to a friend’s house where that party’s fireworks show was more intense.

The town chairman drew a comparison with the St. Germain fireworks show, which is put on by the same company, Chrome Fireworks and Displays (formerly Krueger Fireworks) of Madison.

Spectators at St. Germain are “close to the action,” being clustered in a relatively small area. The shell bursts and concussions reverberate overhead. By contrast, Minocqua’s fireworks fans are spread further out, especially those in boats on Lake Minocqua.

For the past several years, the mantra has been: “If you can see the blue water tower, you can enjoy the fireworks.” That, Hartzheim says, may have overstated the case.

The town chairman said the town’s fireworks budget has remained static over the years, yet the cost of expert pyrotechnic crews and premium shells has risen significantly.

The town chairman, in conjunction with a chamber official and a fireworks representative, earlier this month discussed the conundrum. Among the options, but dismissed due to cost and a safety issue, was using a large barge from which to launch the shells.

The consensus of the three was to shorten the show to 20 minutes from the current 30 minutes. That would allow more shell bursts and fewer pauses. Adding $5,000 to the fireworks budget would mean more shells and more variety, including “specials,” which bring more “oohs” and “aahs.”

Also suggested was to have the chamber create an “ideal” viewing zone in the downtown area for the fireworks display. They are currently lit from an area east of the millpond.

Let’s Minocqua chamber executive Krystal Westphal told the board that a decision on adding more money to the budget should be made fairly soon, as the fireworks company gets its products from China. She later said mid-March would be the cutoff date to ensure the fireworks company gets its order.

Supervisor Brian Fricke after noting that the town has increased the room tax rate, wondered if the chamber couldn’t use that fund for the fireworks. Westphal said state law prohibits room tax being used for that purpose. She noted that the chamber already picks up the substantial cost of the Fourth of July parade’s marching bands, as well as the marketing of the two events.

Westphal later said she’s confident that the chamber will get support from businesses and perhaps others to offset some, if not all, the additional $5,000 outlay. She will return to the town board on Feb. 1 to report on the fundraising effort.