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Meet The Man Behind The Aquatennial Fireworks Show

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(credit: CBS) Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson joined the WCCO-TV team in May 2014. You can find h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s rated as one of the top five fireworks displays in the country and Saturday night, you can see it for yourself in Minneapolis.

The 75th-annual Minneapolis Aquatennial will wrap up with a bang for the annual fireworks display. It’s a show you won’t want to miss, and WCCO-TV went behind the scenes to see how it’s put together. It’s a show that lights up the Minneapolis skyline for one night a year, but the Aquatennial Fireworks display takes several days to put together.

Ray Loffredo is the man behind the operation. The shells for the fireworks will be ignited from the 3rd Avenue Bridge, but for the last five days Ray and his team have set up shop at the Hennepin Hydro Electric Plant.

If you detect an accent, he isn’t from Minnesota or even the Midwest.The Rhode Island native has traveled across the U.S. and Europe, putting on fireworks shows for the last 36 years. He’s the man who will be behind the Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks show Saturday night, which is one of the largest in the country.

Now ignited by a computer, Ray used to have to light the shells by hand. Ray admits his hearing has fizzled over the years but his passion for the job still burns strong.

“I like to travel and see the different places,” Loffredo said.

And for our celebration this weekend, we can thank Ray and his crew. A team that lives for the “oooohs” and “aaaaaahs” promises this show won’t disappoint.

“At the end of the show the sky will be full of gold,” he said.

The volume of explosives is impressive. Loffredo said the Aquatennial show has three to five times more fireworks than most other displays. They are under 24-hour surveillance as safety is always a priority. Loffredo said they’ve never had any safety issues.

The Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks display draws more than 250,000 people so if you want a good seat, it’s in your best interest to get to downtown Minneapolis early. If you want to beat the crowd there will be pre-fireworks festivities, including live music starting at 6 p.m.

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