Ford Fireworks go off Monday in broadcast-only format

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

If seeing Detroit's beloved Ford Fireworks is a family tradition, you'll have to settle for watching the show on TV again this year.

For the second year in a row, the fireworks -- the largest fireworks display in the state -- will air in a broadcast-only format Monday on WDIV. The 26-minute show will start just after 10 p.m. and feature more than 10,000 pyrotechnic effects choreographed to music and shot into the sky from Lake St. Clair Metropark this year rather than downtown.

Tony Michaels, president and CEO of the Parade Company, said the decision to present the fireworks on TV only again this year was made after meeting "numerous" times with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and discussing vaccination rates. He said planning for the fireworks started months ago.

"He wanted people to be safe and wanted things to be right, which is how he makes every decision," said Michaels. "We fully understood. Everybody has a responsibility...We're committed to doing what's right." 

The pandemic canceled most fireworks displays last year. The Ford Fireworks were pushed back to August in 2020 and broadcast on WDIV. Michaels said the fireworks will return to their regular format in 2022.

The theme of this year's show, now in its 63rd year, is "Turn the Page." Produced by the Parade Company, it will include the musical arrangement and works exclusively with Zambelli Fireworks and international choreographer Patrick Brault. It's the largest display in the country for Zambelli Fireworks. 

Thousands turn out to see the show every year, from Belle Isle to Detroit's neighborhoods, said Michaels. And even though the show will only be on TV, he said it'll be bigger than it's ever been.

"It's going to be very, very special," said Michaels.

And while the fireworks show will start just after 10 p.m., the broadcast will run from 9-11 p.m. and Ford's philanthropic arm, the Ford Fund, will pay homage to teachers, professors and school counselors "who have gone above and beyond for students throughout the COVID pandemic," according to the press release. Lake St. Clair Metropark, meanwhile, will be closed Monday.

The Ford Fireworks display over the Detroit River taken from Windsor, Ontario, on June 25, 2018.

“During this year’s fireworks, we are hosting teachers and educators throughout Metro-Detroit who have done so much to help our youth get through this challenging year,” said Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

Michaels said the Parade Company's goal during the entire pandemic has been to keep its traditions going -- including last year's Thanksgiving parade and the fireworks -- which they've done. The parade will return to a live format this November.

"We feel good about what we’ve been able to do," said Michaels. "We’ve done the right thing the whole way."