Bill Falcone’s bigger blast

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Queenstown’s long-time fireworks king is absent this New Year’s Eve – he’s getting a blast 87 times bigger in Australia.
Mountain Scene tracked down Bill Falcone across the Tasman this week, on assignment for the giant New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular on Sydney Harbour. 

“The logistics of it are huge. There are 30-40 of us on the tech side alone,” Falcone says. 

“It’s incredible, we’re loading star shells and mortars eight hours a day and there’s another few days of that.” 

The display has 24 “firing locations” around the harbour – on buildings, barges and the famous bridge – all synchronised by a wireless remote control system. 

Sydney’s budget is about $NZ870,000 – 87 times Queenstown’s usual $10,000 budget – and the audience may top one million, Falcone says. 

The 44-year-old Queenstowner got the big gig via industry contacts. 

He’s done Queenstown’s firework shows for 11 years straight – so why’s the resort not in his diary this New Year’s Eve? 

“I don’t want to be in a negative story – I’ve always wanted to work on the Sydney display – it’s been on my bucket list,” Falcone replies. 

Last year, Falcone had a bitter run-in with council regulator Lakes Environmental – which threatened to ban his New Year’s Eve show on safety grounds. 

LE eventually backed off after the council quango was told by the Department of Labour that it had no jurisdiction to ban Falcone. 

At the time, Falcone remained angry about being heavied, saying LE didn’t have “the expertise, the authority or the jurisdiction”. 

Christchurch company Fire-works Professionals is looking after Queenstown’s midnight bangs this year.