THE FULL CREW
Meet the Artists – 2023
Fireworks are a family affair and a fascinating subject for Mike, a backyard hobbyist turned first-place Sky Wars champion and one heck of a wonderful grandpa (or “BoomPa” in reference to the fiery flames that captivate his world.)
As Mike attested last year, he caught the pyro bug hard after he married his wife Febbie. Their annual July 4th celebrations on his farm were casual hand-lit displays with consumer fireworks he’d timed using spreadsheets.
Mike’s passion for fireworks was dormant for over a decade until his daughter requested that he create a once-in-a-lifetime fireworks show for her wedding, which became Mike’s first pyromusical.
His daughter’s wedding in 2017 lit the fuse! He and his family then began designing and shooting 1-2 choreographed pyromusicals a year, especially during the pandemic. According to Mike, he and his family do it all – from selecting soundtracks to wiring – and do it well…together.
Now, Mike jokes that he’s still a “truly amateur“ pyro, but he takes improving his craft seriously. At pyrotechnic industry events, Mike uses his time wisely by actively diversifying his connections and soaking up as much learned experience as he can from other pyros. He attended Cobra-Con for the first time in 2022 and says it was a “defining weekend” in establishing contacts who would later help with his Sky Wars participation that summer.
Mike’s Favorite Pyro Memory
Mike’s favorite fireworks memories revolve around his families – both his actual family as well as his growing pyro family! He cherishes the joy shared by his family when they pulled off his daughter’s wedding display. More recently, his entire weekend at Sky Wars 2022 was “unbelievable” and a “once in a lifetime experience.”
Mike’s Past Sky Wars Experience
Did we mention that Mike is lucky? In just DAYS before our 2020 show, Mike won VIP tickets through a raffle. He then talked to our organizers about his interest in pyro, and had those VIP passes transformed into pyro weekend passes. He says the entire weekend blew him away!
Shortly after our 2020 event, Mike reached back out and volunteered to participate in the Friday night Blind Pyro competition in 2021. Not only did he earn 1st place in that competition, but that’s also where he first noticed more advanced techniques being used by the other pyros to get custom effects in their shows. Those techniques further inspired him to improve his craft, which helped tremendously in preparation for what would be his 2022 Pro-Am championship.
Reflecting on his 2022 participation, Mike says the entire experience was greater than the competition itself. He remembers everyone from all the competing teams wearing big smiles and sharing fist bumps after each show.
Mike on His 2023 Competitors
Believe it or not, Mike actually sought out to meet both AJ Plata and Scott Smith well before it was announced they’d be competing at Sky Wars. After being confirmed for the 2022 Pro-Am competition, Mike reached out to the two previous Pro-Am winners to pick their brains while they all attended Cobra-Con 2022. The triad’s pyro bond began, and now that they’re 2023 competitors, the friendly banter in their group chat has certainly gotten their juices flowing as they each prepare their competition pieces.
Mike’s no fool when it comes to his plans for knocking his friendly competitors out of the water this year. “There’s really nothing I can do that will surprise those guys! Scott and AJ design some amazing shows. AJ is such a technical designer; Scott is a great storyteller. Somehow I try to merge those two bookends. I think if you can really tell a story and also add that technical component with fireworks use, you’re gonna be successful.” Mike also joked that he plans to “stay in his late” in some aspects and focus on making his show remarkable in its own way.
Mike’s Advice to Aspiring Pyros
Ask questions! Accept help! Mike advises to never be too proud to be open to suggestions, and to be transparent on what you don’t know. He also acknowledges there’s a balance to accepting help from other pyros AND being the lead on a show who must answer everyone’s questions. Making time to reflect and learn from each experience afterwards is crucial.
Check out Mike’s infamous Pro-Am winning pyromusical from our 2022 event: