For “Bigg Matt” Ruland, fireworks go with music about like peas go with carrots. QMIX 107.3 FM radio’s production director has been blending songs and skyward spray for holiday shows at radio stations for a decade — and Friday marks his third such effort locally.
Columbus Regional Health presents QMIX Musical Fireworks 33, “Honoring Our Heroes,” an evening of family entertainment beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a magic show, games, bounce houses, food vendors and more on the grounds of Ivy Tech Community Community College on Central Avenue and at AirPark Columbus.
“The soundtracks can be tedious, but fun to put together,” Ruland said.
The event attracts thousands, including those from surrounding counties, and is among the largest single-day happenings in Bartholomew County, with people in lawn chairs lining segments of Central Avenue for more than a mile in the past. Plus, motorists in vehicles with picnic baskets and more also find parking spots off the shoulders of nearby streets and roads to watch the pyrotechnics synchronized to pop, rock, and country tunes broadcast on QMIX.
On a clear night, the fireworks can be seen as far away as Taylorsville.
This year, Ruland got help from Patra Jones, brand manager for Reising Radio Partners and QMIX morning show host, and Fritz Moser, vice president and general manager for Reising Radio Partners. The team always keeps the nearly 20-minute playlist a secret. But Ruland acknowledged when nudged that there is a snippet of Foo Fighters, one of his favorite bands, in the explosive mix.
“Ideally, I like to try to include a little bit of everything,” Ruland said.
Only one other admission: Seymour native John Mellencamp, often a part of previous years’ soundtracks with “Pink Houses” when the sky softly turned that shade, could be among the approximate one-minute snippets.
QMIX News Director Brad Davis enjoyed his first musical fireworks extravaganza last year. He was impressed by the crowd size, and something more as well.
“The community togetherness of it seems wholly unique,” Davis said.
Some attendees have said that they pick the same spot year after year to be a part of all the festivities. And Ruland has been at enough musical fireworks shows to know what lights up viewers’ hearts.
“Oh, yeah,” he said.” When you’re watching, you can tell which ones are the big hits.”