Rotary preps for Big Bear's big bang, June 26, 2019

The Rotary fireworks barge is prepped and ready to go prior to a previous Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular.

What does it take to put on a big-time fireworks show? It certainly isn’t an overnight sensation. It takes months to prepare, according to Andy Suhay.

“We start the process in January,” said Suhay, who leads the Rotary Club of Big Bear Lake committee tasked with planning and executing the annual Fireworks Spectacular. “We start the barge build the weekend before the Fourth. We’ll have 20 to 30 people at the barge at any given time, working around the clock.”

Suhay took over the fireworks duties in 2014 after his father, Skip Suhay, passed away. Skip was Rotary’s longtime fireworks show expert. Andy learned the craft from watching his dad.

“I’ve been involved with (the fireworks show) as long as I can remember,” Andy said. “Now I work closely with Michael Beveridge, Cliff Fowler and many other Rotarians to get the job done.”

On the evening of the big show, the big barge is moved to the center of the lake where Lake Patrol boats will provide protection and a fallout zone to keep people safely away from the area. A second, smaller barge is moved in front of Marina Resort for Rotary Barbecue guests. The show is synchronized to music on KBHR FM 93.3 radio.

“We’ve upped the ante a bit this year,” Andy said. “We’ll have some great new fireworks, and we’re bringing back some of the more popular ones we had in the past. This is a show that no one else can do in Southern California because we have the area where we can do it safely.”

The 2019 fireworks display comes with a price tag of $80,000. The event is funded by sponsorships, business contributions and community donations. Businesses, organizations and individuals who wish to make a donation for the show, can visit the websites, or

To mail a donation, make the check payable to Rotary Foundation, Tax ID 33-0907051, and mail c/o Big Bear Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 2860, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315.

“I want this to be the biggest show in Southern California,” Andy said. “Our goal is to make it bigger and better every year. The Rotary Club appreciates donations.”

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