Dusty Gonyea and his girlfriend, Vanessa Sproates-Horl, arrived for the Independence Day celebration in Burlington Tuesday around 10 a.m. That's almost 12 hours in advance of the fireworks show, but they say the long wait is a small price to pay to have one of the best seats in town.
"We usually see the barge perfectly and we can see them all setting up and then when it starts, they just go right up in the air," Gonyea said.
Gonyea's family has claimed the same spot at Battery Park for the last 10 years. He says there are a lot of different ways to pass the time.
"This year, we brought a bunch of art stuff. We're just drawing the scenery," he said.
"Sketch whatever we can see or whatever comes to mind," Sproates-Horl said. "That usually passes about two to three hours at a time."
A much bigger work of art will paint the Burlington sky Tuesday night. Fireworks crews spent the day preparing for a pyrotechnic masterpiece.
"We love to shoot fireworks. We love to blow stuff up in a beautiful way. The sky tonight will be the canvas and we're going to throw a mural right up against it," said Michael Boisjoli of Atlas Advanced Pyrotechnics.
More than 6,000 fireworks will rocket above Lake Champlain over the course of the show. The $43,000 display is paid for completely by the event sponsors.
"Thirty minutes of fireworks-- it takes 10 hours of labor for every minute of fireworks that you'll watch tonight, so that's 300 hours of labor by 17 people," Boisjoli said.
Teams from the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department spent the day bracing and preparing the city's waterfront for one of the largest events of the year.
"We expect approximately 100,000 people that will come down," said Maggie Leugers, of Burlington Parks and Rec.
Seventy-five police orders will patrol the waterfront and surrounding areas. Organizers say one of the biggest challenges will be managing the traffic flow after the fireworks finish up.
"Please, please do not drive down here. You can take the CCTA buses, it is a breeze," Leugers said.
Fireworks displays always go out with a bang-- and this year, that bang will be bigger than ever.
"I'm going to attempt a second, more intense grand finale. So the grand finale is actually going to have a grand finale this year," Boisjoli said. "It will be very brief, but it should be very eye-opening."
The Parks and Recreation Department is telling people to expect at least an hour wait leaving the waterfront if they park there. Parking is available in Burlington's downtown parking garages. Also, parking is free at the Gutterson field house at UVM-- the shuttle down to the waterfront costs $1 round trip.
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