THE FULL CREW
Meet the Artists – 2023
A longtime backyard enthusiast turned pro shooter, Donnie’s avid participation in his local pyro club and appreciation for the theatrical side of fireworks has earned him and his team a slot in our highly anticipated 2023 Pro displays.
The 4th of July has always been Donnie’s favorite holiday. Like many born and raised Midwesterners, fireworks were a seasonal staple for he and his brothers throughout their childhood.
As an adult Donnie briefly lived in Arizona where fireworks were essentially “nonexistent,” and when he returned to Missouri in 2017, his passion for pyro became a high priority.
Nowadays, Donnie’s pyro pet project is a 12-15 minute Independence Day display he and his wife put on each year in the Wellington-Odessa area. Their friends-and-family show has extended to welcoming hundreds of people in the community to come enjoy their annual spectacle. As one who appreciates the “whole theatrical production of fireworks,” Donnie has incorporated lighting and flame effects since 2021 to make his annual celebration one of the best around.
In addition to his all-out 4th of July celebrations, Donnie enjoys working on shows with his club affiliation KCAP and for his own ventures. He personally scripted, set up and shot the fireworks show for his own wedding in June of 2021 at Berry Acres in Odessa.
Donnie’s Favorite Pyro Memory
A silly memory that sticks out to Donnie was from his early teen years when he and his uncle were shooting smoke balls towards the river with a slingshot. As if that activity wasn’t zany enough, a fuse came loose from one of the smoke balls and accidentally fell into the basket containing the rest of their fireworks. “All of a sudden, the whole basket is on fire. Things are just shooting everywhere.” At the time Donnie was heartbroken that their day’s supply of fireworks went up in flames so quickly, but looking back he admits it’s one of his funniest memories involving fireworks.
Donnie’s Past Sky Wars Experience
In 2020 Donnie discovered and joined KCAP (Kansas City Area Pyrotechnicians). His first experience with pyromusicals came when he attended Sky Wars that summer to help the club set up Jim Priebe’s Pro Am show. He returned with KCAP in 2021 to assist with the Spirit of ‘76 show shot by Dan Haines, and again in 2022 to help out his fellow club members in the registration tent.
Even Donnie’s first time at Sky Wars in 2020 ignited a hunger for a show of his own to be showcased at an event like this. “I always thought it would be a Pro Am show. I didn’t expect my first show to be a 1.3 [professional] show.” Donnie jokes that he “skipped a whole category” to be participating in this year’s Pro division.
Besides his annual 4th of July shows and the occasional club shoot for KCAP, this year’s Sky Wars display will be Donnie’s first public show of this scale! “It’s not every day you get to shoot a show in front of 10,000 people,” he reasons.
Donnie’s 2023 Show
While September 23rd is still a ways away, Donnie and his fellow KCAPers are already making plans for how they’ll wow the judges in this year’s Pro competition. The team already has their tentative soundtrack determined, and Donnie hints that their show will “have style” and potentially incorporate some unique special effects.
Donnie’s Advice to Aspiring Pyros
Much of Donnie’s professional pyrotechnics experience is thanks to his affiliation with KCAP. Joining a local pyro club is an excellent way to learn about shooting fireworks in a safe environment, get hands-on experience, make strong connections, and grow as a pyro. Donnie encourages enthusiasts in the Kansas City area to check their club out at kcap.us and complete an application. They have multiple social events and club shoots throughout the year, each of which make great opportunities to get involved.
Enjoy the 4th of July pyromusical (complete with special lighting and flame effects) that Donnie and his friends presented near his hometown in 2022: