QMIX Musical Fireworks set to make holiday spark(le)

DAVID Maschino expects Friday’s 10 p.m. annual “QMIX Musical Fireworks XXXII: Sparks Will Fly” to be … well, a shell of show, you might say.

“We’re going to bang it pretty hard and paint the sky,” said the Columbus resident who fires the air artillery at Bartholomew County’s largest single-day event that attracts thousands at Columbus AirPark, nearby Ivy Tech Community College and along Columbus roadways and streets.

Maschino is the Fireworks Pharoah of sorts for Iowa’s J&M Displays that turns the city into a Boomtown for one evening, with a 22-minute skyscape choreographed to QMIX 107.3 FM’s pop-rock playlist that usually includes everyone from Seymour native John Mellencamp (“R.O.C.K. in the USA”) to Miley Cyrus (“Party in the USA”).

Call it pyrotechnic patriotism, big time.

“People sometimes ask me why I continue to do this,” said Maschino, who made his first gunpowder at age 9 and got in trouble. “It’s one of the very few things in life that you can legally do to get a big smile or a big oooh from as many as 30,000 or 50,0000 people at one time.”

There you have it, rocket men and women — a man who truly knows how to light the fuse on festivities. QMIX leaders such as operations manager Brittany Gray, who energetically anchors the station’s on-site coverage of the grand event that begins with food and games at 5:30 p.m., also helps assemble the playlist. And it’s usually a closely guarded secret beforehand, lest listeners lose that sense of celebratory surprise.

“I can’t give any specifics out,” Gray said. “But it will be full of new music and familiar favorites.”

There also will be a new, 40-minute magic show at 6 p.m. in the Ivy Tech parking lot this year, courtesy of Columbus resident Adam Schill of Big Top Productions and his clowning ways. But, unlike predecessor and event entertainer Travis Easterling, Schill focuses more on comic magic than illusions. In the past, Schill worked with illusionist Travis Sims of Seymour.

“Most people know me more for my one-on-one working,” Schill said, mentioning work at restaurants and elsewhere in front of youngsters. “I want to entertain and to make people laugh.”

He has done that regularly at programs such as RidgeKids at The Ridge church.

“A lot of people around town know me simply as the balloon guy,” Schill said because of his creative balloon animals. He chuckled about the fact that some people still recall a rather unforgettable appearance in 2013 from the audience on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” He literally ate a light bulb standing right next to Leno and washed it down with an understandable flood of water.

“The light bulb thing has been retired by request of my dentist and my wife,” Schill said.

People, food booths, children’s bounce houses and games generally turn the QMIX proceeding into a patriotic potpourri.