by Susan Mikula Campbell
Fireworks helped bring Felicia Ewert and Steven Heinz together, and fireworks will play a part in their wedding this weekend.
The two will share their happiness with fellow Town of Niagara residents on Saturday, Aug. 17, as fireworks burst into the sky above the town's Veterans Memorial Park on Lockport Road.
The actual wedding will be Friday at the Lockport Locks Canalside facility in Lockport. The cake topper will feature stained glass fireworks and the theme also carried into the wedding invitations.
Instead of wedding favors, the couple decided to bring family and friends together for a small party on Saturday and rent a pavilion in the town park where they will play games, and once it's dark, enjoy a fireworks show.
Heinz has made a special addition to the fireworks program for his new wife. They'll put on their protective gear and set off fireworks that will display as two gold rings, symbolizing their wedding bands, and two red hearts.
"Then, we'll go back and watch the rest of the show," Heinz said.
Simply sitting back and admiring the show is something they don't have time to do as members of one of the fireworks crews for Skylighters of New York.
Since many of their wedding guests are part of their crew, their boss, Skylighters owner Matt Shaw, is not only providing most of the fireworks for the wedding display, but sending another crew to set them off.
Ewert is a graduate of Niagara-Wheatfield High School. Heinz graduated from Lewiston-Porter High School. They both graduated from the University at Buffalo and have "day jobs" - Ewert as a desktop computer support specialist at UB and Heinz in the mortgage division of M&T Bank.
It's been six years since the couple met.
"Love came first," said Ewert, who didn't join Heinz' fireworks crew until two years after they met.
She noticed him at his cousin's house, next door to her twin sister's house. "I mentioned to my sister how cute I thought he was."
Ewert and Heinz met later after a Fourth of July fireworks show at Hyde Park in Niagara Falls. Heinz was still glowing with excitement from setting off his very first grand finale for the fireworks company.
"She questioned if I was single ... the rest was history," he said.
As the two got to know each other, Ewert caught his passion for fireworks. "We love it. It's just like shells and to make it look good."
She also learned about all the preparation and planning that goes into a show. Preparations for even a small show can take several hours, the couple said.
Safety always comes first. They wear hard hats, safety glasses, earplugs and fireproof jackets and gloves.
Heinz has received the state license for lead pyrotechnician, which makes him completely responsible for the show and the safety of crew and spectators. Anyone working with fireworks also must have an ATF license to carry, transport and ignite high explosives.
Fireworks can be dangerous, but because of all the safety precautions and training involved, Heinz doesn't worry about Ewert's safety as a member of his crew.
"I'm more worried about her riding a motorcycle on today's roads," he said, noting that motorcycles are another interest they share.
Recent fireworks shows by Heinz' crew have included the Artpark 40th anniversary show, the Sanborn-Lewiston Farm Museum show and the War of 1812 bombardment for the Battle of Queenston re-enactment, as well as the Fourth of July week shows in Town of Niagara's Veterans Memorial Park and in the Village of Lewiston.
Although the couple's party in the park pavilion this Saturday is private, Heinz noted that the park itself is not.
"Anyone can come and watch. It will be pretty cool," he said of the fireworks display.
The newly wedded couple will honeymoon in Disney World. The attraction they are most looking forward to viewing? The fireworks, of course.
"It's just a passion of ours. I always joke about how it's the sparks in our relationship," Heinz said.