COLORADO, USA — Fire danger is top of mind this Fourth of July. Some cities are canceling their firework shows, and others are replacing fireworks with drones.
"Now with the fire risks as they are, it's brought in a whole new level of interest in what we do," said Graham Hill, CEO and founder of Hire UAV Pro. “It’s largely driven by wildfire concerns, certainly from Denver west.”
Instead of hearing loud booms on the Fourth of July this year, you might be experiencing the hum of 150 drones flying through the air.
“Colorado was first, I think, as a result of the fires here and then as new fire restrictions have gone into different states like New Mexico and Utah and Arizona, we’ve gotten waves of calls from those areas too," he said.
Hill said they've been contacted by about 300-400 cities across the country looking to replace their traditional fireworks shows with a drone light show.
"We were booked for the Fourth of July four months ago," he said. "So, unfortunately we’ve had to turn away a lot of communities that have come and asked but luckily we get to stay home in Colorado this Fourth and perform."
This year, they're doing shows in Gypsum (July 1), Castle Pines (July 3) and Parker (July 4) for the holiday weekend.
Hill said the bottoms of the drones are just one big LED light that can burst hundreds of lumens of light.
"We basically triangulate the positioning of these and that's how we can make a really tight formation," he said.
The drones dance around in the sky, creating an illuminated aerial story set to music for about 10-12 minutes.
"We get these sort of like 8-10 big moments where people figure out what's being spelled out or what's animating, so that's when we get all of these 'ohs' and 'ahs' and these reactions," said Hill. “I just want people to be excited. That’s all we want. People to come out, have a great time and be really excited about seeing something new.”
Instead of worrying about the risks of fireworks this year, the Town of Parker has hired Hill's team to put on a drone performance at their Stars and Stripes Celebration.
"I have previewed our show and I'm really excited," said Brooke Spain, special events manager for the Town of Parker. "It's going to be put to patriotic music. It gives me the chills just thinking about it."
She said safety is their number one concern this year, but they're not ruling out fireworks forever.
"Our council is going to look at it," said Spain. "We're going to get feedback. We're going to look at the fire danger and the safety needs of our community and then we're going to go from there."
But for this year's Fourth, she's looking forward to trying something new.
"I'm excited about some new innovative ways to celebrate the Fourth and to bring this to our community," said Spain.
On Monday, drones will be flying 400 feet above Salisbury Park. The show should be visible from about 2 miles away. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the drone light show begins at 9:30 p.m.
Spain said the drone show costs a little less than traditional fireworks. The town will pay around $30,000 for this year's show, whereas fireworks would've been closer to $40,000.
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