Interview with Team Melrose

I met with Jon Geese for this final interview of the 2016 season. Melrose Pyrotechnics, from Chicago won the Gold Jupiter at their debut performance in 2006. In the special 25th “winners only” edition in 2009, the garnered the Bronze Jupiter, but were left without a podium finish in the special “winners only” 30th edition in 2014 where the competition was fierce.

Jon said he was very happy to be participating in Montreal and the company felt honoured when they received the call at the end of last year. He said it was less pressure to put on the closing show, though they still wanted everything to be perfect and provide and entertaining show.

Six Flags had chosen the Elton John theme and so Jon set about putting together the soundtrack. He said he had considered various different approaches, including chronological order or grouping songs by genres such as blues, rock-n-roll or ballads. In the end, he decided to make it more biographical and so the soundtrack will feature small clips of statements Elton has made throughout his career, but translated into French for the Montreal audience.

One of 5 ramp 1 firing positions

Jon was excited to show me ramp one, which he said they have filled to capacity with 12″ shells. Each of the five firing positions can accommodate ten, so there will be a total of fifty 300mm shells in the display – by far the largest amount this year. He said it’s increasingly difficult to import and transport these into the United States and fewer venues allow their use so, as pyros, they’re excited to be able to fire so many in Montreal! As well as the large arsenal of 300mm shells, there appears to be around forty 250mm (10″) and possible as many one hundred 200mm (8″). The five and six inch shell positions on ramp 1 are also well filled, with the extreme left and right ends angled 20 degrees to the left and right respectively, to give the broadest possible canvas in the sky.

The display will fully utilize ramps 2, 3, 4 and 5 with some special “vortex” effects on ramp 4. Jon said they will also be using 125mm nautical shells – so the display promises to fully utilize the firing site. A total of 3200 cues are in the script and the products come from such Chinese companies as Glorious, Sunny and Lidu as well as European manufactures including Ricardo Caballer. Jon said that Montreal is one of, if not the, largest displays Melrose will be putting on this year and he and the team, headed by Mike Cartolano, are enjoying their time back in Montreal. Their specially commissioned participation T-shirt is a tribute to Elton John’s piano skills – maybe the colours hint at some special effects in the display? You have to be in the audience on Saturday to see!

Team Melrose with Jon Geese (centre) and Mike Cartolano (right)

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