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  • Each Independence Day, spectators gather in the nation's capitol for the official fireworks celebration. Against a backdrop of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, pyrotechnics paint the sky capital red, white, blue and every imaginable color. FIREWORKS! takes viewers behind the barricades of one of the largest and most impressive fireworks shows in the country, the annual Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., to meet the people and see the process behind this thrilling aerial display. The program visits small factories in China to see the making of fireworks and to watch demonstrations of the latest pyrotechnic effects. Cameras then follow the fireworks shells' wintertime arrival in the United States, and eventually, to the District of Columbia the week before the festivities. Once there, an army of technicians undertake the arduous task of setting and filling 2,500 mortar tubes. Days before the show, their frenzied, last-minute preparations include wiring, setting charges, testing, trouble-shooting and, as with the 2007 show, coping with unexpected weather delays. These pyrotechnicians face incredible danger. 3,2,1 FIREWORKS! highlights an annual safety training course that illustrates what can go wrong when dealing with thousands of pounds of explosives. Additionally, a 5,000-frame per second camera captures the destruction caused by an errant firework shell. Dr. John Conkling, one of the world's foremost experts on fireworks chemistry, explains how different chemical compounds react to create fireworks' signature colors, shapes, sparks and crackle. He also provides a brief history of fireworks - from the discovery of powder in China to its use by European royals and Colonial revolutionaries. Finally, the program witnesses the culmination of a year's worth of work from the pyrotechnician's vantage point. The production's dazzling finale left the crowd of 600,000 onlookers cheering for more.


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