2007-07-03 / News

Last blasts of Dawgz' fun set for Wednesday

By Michaela Kennedy

The Rocket Dawgz will blow up their final fireworks show on Wednesday night, about 9:15 p.m., just after dusk. Mackerel Cove, the site of their first performance 12 years ago, is the venue for the booming display.

"It's great. We get such feedback from the people," says Dawg Fred Brome, who is retiring from his part-time job at Tel-Star, the Vermont distributor of fireworks paraphernalia who supplies the show.

This year's display is dedicated to all the servicemen and women deployed throughout the world defending our freedoms, notes Jim Munro and B.J. Whitehouse, coordinators of publicity and fundraising for the rocket spectacle. Whitehouse also recognizes the dedication of the heroes of the Revolutionary War. "I love July 4 and everything it stands for," he says. "There was a pluck and a backbone those men had that I have not seen in my lifetime," he notes, naming Washington and others who led the country to independence.

Providing a different kind of backbone are the Dawgz that do the grunt work, Brome, Ed Booth and A.O. Gutierrez. The three deliver the spectacle each year. They set up the show, fire up the rockets, and take down the stage. They finally admit, however, the job is too physical for the guys who are getting older. "We're tired. It's time to let someone else younger take over, "Gutierrez says. No one has contacted them yet about taking over the program, though.

"There's effort and excitement in doing the show," he says. Gutttierrez has been behind the scenes of fireworks displays for over 20 years, and likens the experience to theater. He teams with four guys working 10 to 15 blocks, "creating a rhythm with softballs of light, and globs of explosives." They move fast, keeping eyes peeled for potential fire hazards. "It's a dirty, hard-working business," he adds.

Gutierrez says the best part of the Jamestown shoot is the "organic ness to a hand-lit show." With many other communities opting for an electrically-fired display, "We're hand-lighting a show." Many fireworks displays these days are set off by computer, no guy with a fuse in their hand, Gutierrez explains. "Someone has to touch the fire to the flare (in the Rocket Dawgz production)," he points out.

The fellows take pride in the local flavor they have brought to the island over the last decade. Brome recalls a highlight from years back when the Dawgz set off the display at the East Ferry town beach. The community band played in front of the barber shop as rockets flew. "It really is a Norman Rockwell kind of event," Brome muses.

The fiery crew has come full circle back to Mackerel Cove, the original site of the shoot. "I like the sound that echoes off the sides of the cove," Whitehouse describes the explosive exhibition. The best part is that people can walk to the event, he adds.

The Dawgz are still a little shy of their $12,000 commitment to the event, but express confidence that the goal will be reached. Whitehouse guesses that well over 90 percent of the funds received is from local residents. "People have been extraordinary in their generosity," he notes in thanks.

"Send your check to PO Box 1776, Jamestown 02835 or drop it off at the Press office and we'll be sure and blow it up," Munro notes.

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