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'This Is All Well Worth It': Team In Steamboat Prepares To Launch Record-Setting Firework

Matt Stensland
Steamboat Fireworks
Steamboat Fireworks with the shell that will go off on Feb. 8. Pictured from right are Ed MacArthur, Tim Borden, Eric Krug and Jim Widman.

On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 8, Steamboat Fireworks will make their second attempt for a record for setting off the world’s largest firework during the annual Steamboat Winter Carnival.

Tim Borden, the group's project manager, joined KUNC’s Colorado Edition to discuss the endeavor.

Interview Highlights

These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Henry Zimmerman: What interested you in setting off the world’s largest firework?

Tim Borden: I am, along with my team members, have been interested in fireworks for many years. I started when I was in second grade. My father was transferred to Canada where they had relaxed rules at that time about fireworks, and I kind of got the bug at that point.

Since then, I’ve always been interested. And when you ask about why do something like this, it’s a lot of work. There’s 2,000 man-hours into this one shell, if you add the time we put into the mortar and the rest of it, and we get about 20 seconds of pleasure from this, but if you’re a fireworks fan such as the four of us are, this is all well worth it.

And frankly, it’s a hobby of mine, I’ve been assisting the city with fireworks for almost 20 years now, so to have my name at least for some period of time, on a world record, would give me a lot of pride as well as my team members, having kind of achieved a goal just as a fireworks fan.

And, I must add that all of the work that I do in fireworks has all been voluntary, I’ve never charged or done anything from a commercial point of view, it’s all just to better this great town of Steamboat Springs.

I want to talk about that shell, I understand (it's) 62 inches, over five feet, and it weighs seven tons. How did you make a firework that big?

To build this thing we actually put a hole in it after we got the shell initially made, and this is big enough for a person to get inside, which is what we do. We have had (an) official weight for the Guinness World Records — that was recorded on January 30th — of 2,797 pounds.

Our mortar, which was made up in Washington two years ago, is in fact seven tons and it’s two inches thick in steel and 26 feet in length, and it’s buried 26 feet in the ground, so the top of the mortar is just flush with the surface, and that provides a real level of comfort in terms of safety factor if there should be an accident.

How far away do you think people will be able to see this?

We’ve had sightings from past fireworks as far as 15 miles away, as well as the sound. And we expect — I have filed and have confirmed a NOTAM, that’s a notice to airmen — and we predict that the shell will be between a half or three-quarters of a mile above ground when it goes off, and it’s fairly high from the bottom of the town because we’re up most of the way up the hill of Emerald Mountain. I think about 15 miles is safe.

I tell my friends in California and my friends in Europe to look towards Steamboat at around 8:30 on the 8th and maybe they’ll see it. But that’s just a joke because it’s likely not to be seen or heard more than 15 miles away.

This conversation is part of KUNC’s Colorado Edition for Feb. 6. You can find the full episode here.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily look at the stories, news, people and issues important to you. It's a window to the communities along the Colorado Rocky Mountains.