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Meet the pyrotechnician behind Fire on the River

The skies of Ipswich will light up this Thursday for Fire on the River, marking the start of four days of Ipswich Festival celebrations. We meet Nick Mitri, the pyrotechnician behind the spectacle.

How did you get started in the fireworks business?

I’ve been in fireworks for 25 years now. When I was a kid in South Africa, my dad had a production company, and I gravitated towards the guys who were working with fireworks. I found it exciting. And later, I decided to start my own company. I had no training, I knew nothing about fireworks, or running a business. So it was lucky I didn’t blow myself up.

What can people expect from Fire on the River?

It’ll be big, busy and loud- with lots of colour! The show will start with the jetpack stunt performers, with mines and comets shooting off their jetpacks. It may not be as big as other shows we do, like Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, but it’ll seem quite large, because the fireworks are right there on the river. So it’ll feel close and personal.

What are the steps in putting on a fireworks show?

There’s quite a team involved. First, we send a music track to the council, and once that’s approved, we work on the choreography and make sure it works artistically. We’re embracing the jetpack performers more and more, so we have to make sure the timing works, and of course, the safety aspect with how many jetpacks we have out on the river.

What’s the best part of the job?

Definitely the travel, and meeting interesting people. I’ve been to 49 countries so far, and I can’t imagine I would’ve had that if I’d picked a different career. I’ve also met so many different entertainers, politicians, and interesting people. The highlight was having coffee with Nelson Mandela. I really feel like I don’t work. I get up, have fun working on shows, and get paid.

What’s the worst part?
The downside is the paperwork. Health and safety is so important in this industry, and it’s definitely our priority. But there’s a lot of paperwork.

Have you done any other fireworks shows in Ipswich?

This is our first show in Ipswich. Foti Fireworks opened a branch in Queensland, and I moved out to Brisbane from South Africa with my family two years ago. We feel like we’re living in paradise. And I think Ipswich is an awesome place. I really love River Heart Parklands. I’m looking forward to exploring it more.

See the Fire on the River fireworks this Thursday, 11 April, at 7pm. The best spots to see it will be from David Trumpy Bridge, Bradfield Bridge and Riverlink Shopping Centre.

For more Ipswich Festival events taking place this weekend, visit Discover Ipswich. 

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