Faith Journey

Grace Fishers Fireworks: The Man Behind the Show

Written by
Chris Johnson

On July 3, Grace Fishers will be hosted its third annual Fireworks event. But do you know about the man who designs and puts on the show? It is none other than our own Chris Johnson! We thought you’d like to know a bit about his history playing with fire(works), so we asked him to tell us … Take it away, Chris!

Having grown up in a small town in western Illinois only six miles from a fireworks factory, I have always loved watching firework displays. The ability to use explosives in a way that brings color and beauty to the sky is enjoyable to me. From the time I was a young boy, my brothers and parents would pack our car with lawn chairs and blankets to go to our town’s high school football field and watch the annual Independence Day fireworks show. It was a hand-lit show, but special to me, because each year I would see new firework effects, plus it was a time when the community came together.

I left that small town life to attend the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois in Chicago. There I met my wife, who was studying to become a Physical Therapist. It was there I also met Jesus.

Growing up, I had never really understood what it meant to surrender my life to the Lord. But through a desperate moment of personal struggle, God introduced me to people who loved Jesus. Their influence on me, as well as my personal search for the truth of Christ, brought me to a time where I reached a point of brokenness and defeat; I asked Jesus to save me. At that moment, the touch of God came upon me, and I had a sudden awareness of His presence. The moment was powerful and changed me completely; I was a new disciple beginning a journey of conforming to His image.

Later in life, I was introduced to firework exhibits at Disney theme parks and loved the coordination of fireworks with music. Watching the “Illumination” shows at Epcot was mesmerizing and I did not want them to end. The songs were powerful, and I loved how the timing of firework breaks and effects were used to accentuate the music. I found the experience to be emotional and had desired in my heart to someday do what Disney was able to do to the songs that moved my heart.

I started conducting small shows in the mid-1990s in our backyard in Carmel. My wife and I would invite our neighbors to gather for fellowship, eat desserts, and enjoy a simple volley of firework effects to commemorate the holiday. Over the years, the firework shows grew, requiring more planning and preparation. However, it wasn’t until I was invited by a friend to join a pyrotechnic club, Heartland Pyrotechnic Arts Association, that my hobby grew. I took professional training courses to learn how to handle and use display products and joined firework group buys that afforded me access to wholesale prices. I now hold a federal explosive license permit that enables me to purchase and work with large display items. However, the shows that I shoot do not use display products nor require a license permit. I only maintain the permit for club-related shows.

Grace Fishers Fireworks Set Up

Today, I use a computerized firing system that promotes safety and provides control and timing. My system enables me to load a soundtrack and establish cues to pair songs with effects. My ability to shoot sophisticated firework shows is only limited by the number of cues in my system and the products that I am using. I really enjoy the opportunity to shoot the Grace Fishers fireworks show each year. A lot of planning goes into each year’s show.

Planning for this year’s show started in December 2022. Much of this time was spent reviewing product videos and choosing songs for the soundtrack. The song choices are as important to me as the fireworks. I want to create a soundtrack that touches our hearts through a combination of patriotic and worship songs. So, in addition to songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America”, expect to hear Gospel and Worship songs from artists like Matthew West, Phil Wickham, and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Grace Fishers 2022 Pyrotechnics Volunteer Team

Putting together a firework show that coordinates fireworks to music takes a lot of time. On average, for every minute of a pyro musical show, about 8 hours of preparation has occurred. This year’s show will be a little over 26 minutes in length. I am thankful for the number of volunteers that work with me during the week of the show to transport and set up product and help in the cleanup at the end. It is a team effort of more than a dozen people that makes the show possible to do for our community.

My goal for this year’s show is that people in attendance will experience the joy of fellowship from the people of Grace Fishers. Come early and tailgate with everyone. Leave with thankful hearts and praise to our Lord for the liberties and freedoms of our nation and the community and acceptance that is found at Grace Fishers Church. This year’s program will proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior. I pray that you will invite your neighbors and friends into our fellowship to experience the Gospel proclaimed in music and celebration …. with fireworks. And I hope to effectively use pyrotechnic effects to connect you to the music and the Holy Spirit that inspired these songs. God bless!

Grace Fishers Fireworks Event

The annual Grace Fishers Fireworks Event took place on July 3. Join us next year for food, fun, fellowship, and fireworks!