Pyrotechnicians prepare fireworks for Melaleuca Freedom Celebration

IDAHO FALLS — More than 20,000 firework shells containing some 17,000 pounds of explosives will be shot into the air Tuesday night as part of the biggest Melaleuca Freedom Celebration in Idaho Falls history.

Organizers and workers spent Monday at Snake River Landing preparing and setting up the fireworks that will be displayed during the 31-minute show. The explosives will be choreographed and synced to a patriotic musical program that will air live on KLCE Classy 97.3.

Crews spent Monday setting up fireworks for the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration. | Nate Eaton,

“This show will have more than twice the firepower of any other show we’ve done,” Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot said Monday. “You’re going to feel it. You’re going to be right in the middle of it. It will be something you’ll never forget.”

Oregon-based Western Display Fireworks is coordinating the show. The new fireworks launch pad is 40 times larger than the old site – measuring 300 by 115 feet compared to the previous 50 by 25 feet.

“This show is the top. It’s the apex of all the shows that I’ve ever shot,” said Larry Nelson, Western Display Fireworks chief pyrotechnician.

The move to Snake River Landing will provide 70 acres of grass for spectators to picnic, relax and enjoy the fireworks. More than 150 acres have been designated for parking and the Mountain View Hospital Riverfest celebration will provide entertainment, food, horseback riding, archery, wagon rides, inflatable toys and more starting at noon.

Melaleuca has hired world-renowned fireworks coordinator Renzo Cargnelutti from Germany to help with the show. He will use the same fireworks-firing system used in the Olympics and other large displays.

“The firing mechanism will be timed within one thousandth of a second,” VanderSloot said. “We’re going to paint the entire sky. The lower portion, which you couldn’t see in previous shows because of buildings and trees, and the middle sky, which we could see in the previous show, and then we’re going to do the upper sky which we’ve never done because we weren’t allowed to shoot them that big.”

The public is invited to attend Snake River Landing and watch the free fireworks show which begins at 10 p.m. VanderSloot hopes everyone involved remembers the true meaning of the Independence Day holiday.

“We are celebrating the freedom that we as a country have with a tremendous price paid by men and women who we’ll never know,” VanderSloot said. “They all had a story. Over a million of them are now gone and they paid that price. We just want to tell them thank you.”