Maitland pyrotechnician counts down to his biggest night

OFF WITH A BANG: Pyrotechnician Chris Solomou is looking forward to entertaining the crowd along the banks of the Hunter River on New Year’s Eve.With only hours to go before fireworks explode into view at Maitland riverbank tonight, it’s Chris Solomou’s job to make sure everything goes off with a mighty bang.

As senior pyrotechnician, Mr Solomou knows a trick or two about sparks and dazzling colours, glittering stars and soaring rockets.

Enchanted by fireworks since he was a youngster, the Maitland turf supplier has been a “pyro” for the past 18 years.

And he believes the fireworks at Maitland this New Year’s Eve will be “bigger and better – up there with the best”.

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Mr Solomou works with a team of 15, all fireworks fanatics from different occupations and expert at what they do.

Among his team is Anthony Grugeon, son of developer Hilton, whom Mr Solomou said would “blow things up with me”.

The team has welcomed the single displays this year, which will enable them to concentrate on bigger and better effects.

For the past few weeks they have examined all their wares which come from China: cakes and mines that blow up with a spectacular noise and flake the world in brilliant colours.

“This year we will have fireworks that break into several glittering arms of gold, falling about the sky like the arms of an octopus,” Mr Solomou said.

“We also have a titanium mine that is quite spectacular – it makes a hell of a noise.”

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His team, working with Maitland City Council and also with Newcastle City Council, has been very selective about choosing the fireworks.

Gone are the days when fireworks were lit by their wicks and plonked on the ground, with everyone running away.

“Today fireworks are set off either by computer control or by wireless,” Mr Solomou said.

“We have studied the weather and the winds will be easterly, which seems all right so far.

“Because we are catering particularly for families, we have to make sure this is relevant to their expectations and safety is always our number one consideration.”

The team has studied the firework site – the Lorn side of the Hunter River.

“I am always a bit nervous as the time draws closer,” Mr Solomou said.

“But for around 10 full minutes, we’ll give the people of Maitland a great show.”

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