FIREWORKS: Chris Beekmeyer has just come home from coming second in an international fireworks competition in Germany. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Local fireworks man on top of the world


He might fight fires by day but when night falls Chris Beekmeyer turns the sky into works of art.

“I love the logistics, the organisation, the thrill and the danger of it all,” Chris says. “It’s dangerous but you have to be safe.”

He has just put that to the test – executing the biggest fireworks display he has ever been put on, in Hanover, Germany.

The International Fireworks Competition, in its 28th year, pitted five teams from around the world against each other, all demonstrating their abilities for crowds of tens of thousands.

Chris, who is a local firefighter, was representing Fireworks Professionals in Christchurch, along with Patrick Rietveld.

It was the only non-European team in the competition and they came second.

Chris says that it was a true team effort from its design by Lachlan Findlay to the final product. The show was a tribute to the founder of Fireworks Professionals, Anthony Lealand, who died earlier this year.

It featured 2000 different fireworks cues whereas most of the bigger shows in New Zealand would struggle to have a quarter of that.

“It was massive, and we did absolutely astounding.”

Chris has a background in managing backstage and lighting in theatres and from there his love of pyrotechnics grew.

“The buzz comes from the end of the show when everyone loves it. No one knows who you are or what you do, but I love sitting back, knowing the audience have loved it.”

Most fireworks shows are done in two dimensions – meaning all the fireworks are set up in a line. The ones at Herrenhausen Gardens, however, were in three dimensions so there were many more options and factors to consider.

Chris says the New Zealand team were at a huge disadvantage as they had to source all their own crew and equipment locally rather than other teams who could just drive to the event.

“It gives us great bragging rights,” he says.

Chris says that the allure of fireworks are in their immediacy. He quotes the philosopher Theodor Adorno.

“Fireworks are the most perfect form of arts, since the image withdraws from the viewer at the moment of its highest perfection.”

But for Chris, fireworks has always been a hobby.

“I just love doing it.”

He is also looking into doing a big commercial show for the people of Nelson and is looking for potential backers who might make it happen.

If you are interested email [email protected]