World-renowned pyrotechnic Patrick Brault has been choreographing the Ford Fireworks Detroit since 2009, but he’s been lighting up the skies for more than 25 years. It isn’t what he planned on doing with his life, but he sure is good at it.
“I got into this by accident, actually,” Brault says. “When I was 19, I got invited to work as a laborer for this firework show in Montreal. One show became five shows, and I just kept doing it.”
Since then, he’s become a big name in the business and even choreographed the 2010 Winter Olympics’ show. But he keeps his feet on the ground.
“My favorite shows are not necessarily my biggest,” Brault says. “Sometimes the small shows can bring just as much pleasure.”
In fact, a smaller show without a soundtrack is among his favorites.
During this particular display, a live band accompanied the fireworks, and Brault was instructed to follow the rhythm of the music. The conductor, who was facing the fireworks, was so excited by the explosions that he led the band too quickly and ended the show a minute early. The violinists were sweating by the time they put their bows down.
“That was a pretty small show, but it ended up being one of my most lively,” says Brault.
Music is what Brault counts on most for his shows. He doesn’t prefer any one genre, ranging from Metallica and Mozart.
As for what Detroiters will see and hear this year, he’s keeping secrets. But he says the show, scheduled for Monday, June 26, will be one for the books.
“We have something that people will have never seen before,” Brault says. “People are going to relate to it and it’s going to be really, really special.”
Brault enjoys working on the Detroit show year after year. He says his favorite part is working with The Parade Co., and coming to a city that feels like home.
“I’ll get people who come talk to me every year after the show,” he says. “Work is work, but when you can enjoy it like this show, it’s always nice.”
Tony Michaels, CEO of The Parade Co., aims for a show that makes people feel pride. He works with Brault to pick everything from the music to the smallest moment.
This year’s theme is “Detroit! Right Now!!” “It’s all about pride, which is fitting since this is one of those magical Detroit events,” Michaels says.
This year, the plan is to start with unbelievable.
“Put your seatbelt on,” Michaels says. “That’s all I’ll say.”
The Ford Fireworks will take place on June 26 at 9:55 p.m. For more information visit theparade.org.