Fundraising push: Frankton vollie firefighters, from left, Jamie Harris, Bill Falcone and Karl Argyle


Queenstown’s pyrotechnic guru’s hunting for someone to push start on next month’s  Welcome to Winter fireworks display, simultaneously raising money for a cause long-supported by local firefighters.

Bill Falcone, who’s also a member of the Frankton Volunteer Fire Brigade, says normally the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge, a fundraiser for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, is held in May.

This year, due to Covid, the 2022 event, in which fireys wear gear weighing 25kg and race up 51 flights of stairs, has been pushed back till August, giving local firefighters a unique
chance to raise some extra money for the cause.

Falcone says he and fellow vollie Jamie Harris — a stair climb veteran — have been working with Welcome to Winter organiser, Destination Queenstown, to use the July 8 CBD  fireworks display to help boost the charity’s coffers.

A Trade Me auction — ‘Queenstown with a bang’ — closes just after 8pm tonight, with the winner getting to run the countdown on the main stage in Queenstown’s CBD, and push the ‘‘ceremonial button’’ to unleash the fireworks display.

Big bang fundraiser: Love will be in the air next month during the Welcome to Winter fireworks display over Queesntown, which one fundraising auction winner will get to push ‘go’ on. PICTURE: STILL VISION PHOTOGRAPHY

The prize package also includes two nights’ accommodation, and breakfast, at Millbrook Resort, NZSki lift passes and mountain transport to Coronet Peak, The Remarkables or Mt Hutt, valid for the season, $220 of Queenstown Taxi vouchers, a $150 meal voucher from Ivy & Lola’s, a $100 voucher from Ferg Bar, and a $50 voucher from Smiths Craft Beer House, along with a Skyline gondola pass and five luge rides.

By yesterday afternoon, the top bid was $1020.

And while Falcone’s staying tight-lipped on details of this year’s display, he says it’ll open with love hearts, suggesting it might be the perfect time for a marriage proposal.