Hollow Blast 2009
(Behind the Scenes)

by Keith Hayman


First off, I need to thank Brice for the idea for this story. Three or four years ago he said it would be pretty cool for me to do a story on what we do to get all set up for the big show on Saturday night. Here is the deal for the 2009 show.

It’s the late part of April and we start making plans for our vacation. We ended up in Erie PA in May and stopped at Sky King and Phantom to get supplies, and on the way back home we stopped at Phantom in Youngstown, OH. Also in May we made a short trip to Eagle in Marietta. Yes, four different fireworks stores. On the boat in June it was time to start going over the song list from last year to see what songs we used and to delete and add songs to come up with about 30-35 minutes of music. I add them to a play list on my MP3 player and just listen to the song list over and over and think about each song and what to set off with each one. And, now the set up. This year I made up a better tube rack, from five tubes up to eight with a tighter fit for less chance of a tube falling over. Also, with more tubes we give them a little time to cool down after a mortar goes up by switching from one to another.

Now let’s get to Saturday late afternoon. We are in the house opening a lot of boxes and unwrapping fuses and taking the tops off the repeater cakes. When we get finished the place looks like Christmas morning. Now lets get out to the launch site. I always use my tilt-bed trailer to angle the show away from the crowd so there is less chance of any thing coming back down on somebody’s head. We try to be as safe as we can. If you look close you will see a large jug of water and a fire extinguisher that we hope we will never need.

And now the show. This year I am trying something new, a laser lite that Shane and I use on our DJ jobs. I did a little test out back and with some smoke in the air I think it will look pretty cool. Last year we ran across a better way to light a fuse. We use something called a pyro torch -- no more “click-click-click” with a long Bic lighter that wants to be fussy when we need to light a fuse.

Time to hook up the jam system. I hook our laptop into a 600 watt mixing amp. All the music is on a flash drive and played through the computer. We use four speakers, two facing our family crowd and the other two facing that rowdy bunch that watches from across the road. We like to start with something fast and loud just to get the show on the road. We try to use two cakes on each song and fill in with mortars.

And now the grand finale. I am sure by now that when the song “Imagine” starts playing, everyone knows the finale is coming up. The two large cakes for this will be 404 shots in the air with two large fountain cakes on the ground all at the same time. This is my favorite time, backing away and watching the night sky filled with color and kabooms and knowing that we have done another great job with “Hollow Blast”.

Of course there is a lot more little details that go into the show, and with all of them Don and Brian would need to add two or three more pages to the Hayman Holler. Thanks Brice for the idea of “Hollow Blast” behind the scenes.

PS: If you didn't like this story, let’s blame it on Brice.