HomeMeet The ArtistsMeet The 2024 Artists: John Mikrut Jr. (Pro Competitor)

Meet The 2024 Artists: John Mikrut Jr. (Pro Competitor)

2024 Pro Display Competitor

John Mikrut Jr.

Hometown: Princeton, Illinois
Company: RKM Fireworks

The pyro bug has brought John quite far from his early days assisting with backyard shows nearly two decades ago. He’s a fresh recruit at RKM AND will be competing on the Sky Wars big stage for the first time this year – all in between leading large-scale events in his hometowns.

How John caught the pyro bug

It all started 19 years ago for John when his buddy asked him to help hand-light a backyard 4th of July show. “From that first thump, I was like, I gotta get into this,” John said. 

The very next year, he began his involvement with the large annual Independence Day display in his hometown Walnut, Illinois. Today, not only is he the lead shooter for that display, he also leads the 4th of July show in his current hometown Princeton.

John just joined RKM Fireworks and is excited to begin shooting displays with them for the first time in the summer of 2024 – just months before taking the big stage with his RKM crew at Sky Wars on September 28th.

John’s previous Sky Wars experience

This will be John’s fifth year attending Sky Wars. In 2023, he was on a small team that participated in the Blind Pyro competition on Friday night prior to Saturday’s public show. “It didn’t turn out so well,” he laughed, admitting that he’d forgotten to put the audio file in when exporting the show. That is one mistake John promises will NOT be happening this year – he plans to “triple check everything” even before leaving the house.

To say that John is looking forward to his shot at competing in this year’s US Fireworks Championship is an understatement. John openly admits he sometimes gets the “happy tears” when it comes to pyro, which may or may not have happened when he got “the call” from MOpyro president Rob Cima letting him know he would be a competitor in the 2024 show.

What to expect from John’s 2024 show

There’s no pyro-crastinating for John, who began scripting his show just days after receiving the confirmation that he’d be competing. His music selection is a mix of genres, and though it’s too early for spoilers, John says there are several runs in his choreography that he’s looking forward to showing off.

Favorite pyro show / memory to date

John would say his 2022 show in Walnut is his favorite so far.

John says this show traditionally starts in a ground display with a large set piece of lance work (a type of firework art in which small fountain-like devices appear to make up pixels, which can be used to create images or words).

Due to rain in 2023, his crew was unable to light the lance piece – so the crowd stepped in to help. “My buddy started tapping me on the shoulder and he’s like, dude, turn around and look,” John recalls. “There were like five thousand phones with their lights going. It was awesome.”

Ask The Pros: Questions from the Fans

Don Ayres: “Even though the pyro community can feel like family at times, how intimidating is it to compete on a stage with mostly field critics?” 

“It is pretty intimidating,” John says. “The more I attend Sky Wars, the more comfortable I get. I’m realizing the best thing about the pyro community is seeing all the big names out there and being able to walk up to them and spark a conversation.” His first year at Sky Wars, John lent a hand on Tim Jameson’s (IPC Displays) crew after approaching them and offering to help on the field one morning. “That’s the most exciting thing about it,” he says. “Everyone’s cool.”

Bo Domescik: “Do you think you’ll get quality sleep between the months of August and September?”

“Oh, I sleep like a baby.” All joking aside, John anticipates being relatively relaxed in the coming months since he’s gotten ahead on scripting his show. He already spends “three hours a night” working on it!

Nicole Mikrut (John’s wife): “When do the Pyro wives get their husband’s back?!?!?”

“Uh… September 30th.” Actually, John has a show to shoot the week following Sky Wars! “I probably won’t even unload the trailer until after that show.”

Sam Christensen: “Not just anyone gets the opportunity to compete at Sky Wars. Winner or no, what does this mean for you in your pyro journey?”

“I’m going to learn a lot from it. I can’t wait to get the professional videos to show all my friends and family who aren’t able to attend.”

If John wins this year, he says his very next move would be to start scripting his Championship of Champions show for September 2025!

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