Bright bombs and ballet are his business

Hours before the fireworks exploded over Silverdale Stadium at halftime of Olympic High School’s Oct. 25 Homecoming game, drizzling gold and silver dust in their wake, Chris Williams sat on a darkening field huddled over a circuit board, surrounded by a cadre of eight volunteers.

In front of him were black tubes of all sizes from which the spectacular show soon would be launched.

The volunteers chatted, disagreeing over the best vantage from which to watch the show.

“I like to lie flat and the ground and look up,” said David Douglas, who works with Williams at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

“I think a little ways off is better, you get a better perspective,” said Charlie Wilson, who attended pyrotechnic training with Williams.

Williams, a PSNS engineering supervisor, worked, oblivious to the conversation

“He is an absolute stickler for safety,” said George Cook, who has known Williams since 1988. “I can attest to his diligence — when he’s out here doing this, that’s all he’s doing. He’s very concentrated.”

Williams became a licensed pyrotechnician in 1995, but he said he has been interested in fireworks his whole life. No injury or accident has ever occurred in the myriad shows he has shot.

Williams, who has no children of his own, donates an estimated $600 a year and dozens of hours to put on the high school displays.

“It’s a give-back-to-the-community sort of thing. High school kids love it. They get the materials at cost, and I throw in a few hundred in on top,” Williams said. “They get shows that are two to three times what they pay for.”

One of the biggest challenges of pyrotechnics is working in bad weather, Williams said. When it rains, he and other volunteers must work under a tarp tent because the fireworks can’t get wet.

His favorite part is the audience reaction.

“Through our hearing protection we hear them scream their heads off,” said Williams, who lives near the Fairgrounds.

Besides fireworks, Williams’ other passion is ballet. He is active in the Peninsula Dance Theater, and has drawn some of his friends into the art.

He invited father-son duo Charlie and Patrick Wilson, who also help with fireworks shows, to participate in one performance. They’ve been hooked ever since.

“He told us we should come — we just had to put our leg up on a bale of hay and clap. I learned a few steps and now I’m taking classes four times a week,” Charlie said.

Patrick also took a liking to dance and he joined a troupe in Bellingham.

“We’re all ballet dancers. The season opening comes up in a few weeks, and we also do the “Nutcracker” together,” Patrick said.

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