Published On: Wed, Jul 6th, 2011

Volunteers make fireworks display soar

Gary Wieseler stands back and watches after lighting a shell during Monday’s fireworks display at St. Helena. Three generations of Wieselers have entertained area residents with the annual fireworks show.

ST. HELENA — The St. Helena Fourth of July celebration comes together each year thanks to three major components: the Catholic Church, the surrounding communities and local families.
“It’s essentially a family affair,” said lifetime native Gary Wieseler, who volunteers to light off fireworks during the celebration.

The fireworks are sponsored by Premiere Pyrotechnics.
In order for Wieseler to shoot off fireworks, he must attend a day-long seminar and pass a test administered by the Nebraska State Fire Marshall. Successful completion of the test enables him to attain a Class ‘B’ license valid for three seasons.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent of the test involves safety and regulations,” Wieseler said.
Wieseler is no stranger to staying safe around fireworks, after all he and his brothers, Roger and Dan, have been around it since his dad, Gene Wieseler, started volunteering around 50 years ago. About 25 years ago Gene Wieseler passed away, leaving Gary, Roger, Danny and other community members to continue the community/family tradition.
The Wieseler family tradition is approaching its third generation. Gary Wiesler’s sons, Tim and Patrick, help out when they can.
Since the fireworks are based around the church, community and family. It is appropriate that individuals like Joe Zimmerman, a former firefighter from Wynot, are present during the fireworks display.
Wieseler said Zimmerman is a huge part of how the fireworks display stays safe.
“When Joe see’s something wrong around the fireworks set-up, he is quick to alert us to make it safe for all attending,” Wieseler  said.
The display is comprised of three lines stocked with fireworks by volunteers from the community and lit with a flare by Wieseler using a patch fuse.
A patch fuse is a slow fuse, long enough to provide ample time for fireworks volunteers to move a safe distance from the explosion.
After the fireworks are ignited they fly high over head, explode and give the surrounding community a 20-30 minute show that keeps them coming back year after year.