Behind the scenes at Frisco’s 4th of July fireworks show |

Behind the scenes at Frisco’s 4th of July fireworks show

Jessica Smith
July Fourth Fireworks Over Lake Dillon, Frisco, CO
Todd Powell / Special to Weekender |

Local fireworks

Catch some spectacular mountain fireworks shows this Fourth of July

Breckenridge — 9:45 p.m. Fireworks will be shot off from the Gondola Lot and visible throughout town.

Frisco — 9:30 p.m. Fireworks can be seen throughout town and near the Frisco Marina.

Keystone — 9 p.m. at Lakeside Village.

Dillon — Frisco’s fireworks show can be seen from across the lake at various vantage points in Dillon, such as the Dillon Amphitheatre.

Most people don’t start thinking about the Fourth of July until about the end of June at the earliest. But Lake Dillon Fire chief Jeff Berino usually starts around February. That’s because he’s in charge of ordering the fireworks shells for the Frisco and Keystone Independence Day shows, and it takes a while to get them shipped. Berino orders fireworks from a variety of places both in and out of the U.S., including China, Japan and Italy. Some of his favorites come from Japan, he said, which provides a lot of “absolutely gorgeous” competition-grade fireworks.

Berino has been involved with the fireworks shows for the past 36 years. Back in the 1970s and ’80s, he said, the fire departments were in charge of these shows, which is how he first got started with them. Now, regulations require certain specific licenses and certification, which Berino and his crew have acquired, to put on a fireworks show of this size.

Berino is currently in charge of both the Frisco and the smaller Keystone fireworks displays. Though he can only be present at one — in Frisco — he helped to plan both of them. Keystone will be “a very intense 10-minute show,” he said, while Frisco’s fireworks will last for 25 minutes and will be set to music played on local radio station Krystal 93.

“As the music picks up pace, so do the fireworks,” Berino said. They also match the song currently playing. So if there’s a mention of the color green in the song lyrics, for example, a green firework will explode across the sky. The same goes for red, white and blue, of course.

Because of its placement, shooting across the water, Frisco’s fireworks show will feature the biggest shells, up to 10 inches across that go 1,200 feet high before exploding. These large shells are required to be buried in the ground before being set off, for safety reasons.

Viewers can expect plenty of the traditional fireworks and commonly seen shapes like crowns, stars and serpents. They can also expect to see some of those competition-grade designer shells Berino is excited about, such as the octopus, palm tree, stained glass and dragon’s eggs.

“I can’t wait to see what the dragon eggs look like, because I’ve never seen a dragon,” Berino said.

Berino is a self-proclaimed “nerd” when it comes to fireworks, and works months ahead of time to make sure that the shows not only will go off without a hitch, but will be spectacular for anyone watching.

Setup includes three days of work from a 10-man crew, and nearly 3 miles of wire that connects to a computer.

“It’s a lot of work for 25 minutes of fun,” said Berino, but he’s excited to do it every year. “It’s a lot of work, but we do get a lot of enjoyment making a lot of the people in the county happy.”

While there is no fireworks ban this year, Berino urges Summit County locals and visitors to forgo the small personal fireworks, which always come with safety risks, and enjoy the larger shows instead.

“Leave the shows to the three professional shows in the county,” he said. “The key is safety.”

Besides, he’s pretty sure his display of firepower will far outshine any store-bought 3-foot-tall whistling fountains.

“It’s spectacular in the mountains in Summit County,” Berino said, “the way it echoes around the mountains.”

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