Long before midnight in downtown Salt Lake City, the celebration begins for Chuck Johnson, who gets just as excited in the hours leading up to the New Year, as he does in the minutes that follow.
“It’s always been a passion of mine since I was a little kid, and my mother never discouraged me from playing with matches,” Johnson said.
As the owner of Vortex Fireworks, Johnson looks forward to spending his New Year’s Eve overlooking the Salt Palace, envisioning what is to come later.
“I treat every one of these as like they’re my kids. I love every one of them,” Johnson said of his fireworks. “The show open, bam, 50 salute, whistle. It’s going to rip the place. And that’s at the stroke of midnight.”
Families strolling the Gateway received an early taste of what was to come with a smaller fireworks display at 7 p.m.
“They were great. The kids had a lot of fun. It was fun up there at the bridge. We could see them really well,” said Kellie Meehan, who took her children to see the show.
In its fifth year, the EVE celebrations drew big crowds over the course of its three day event in downtown.
“EVE is 40,000 people, your closest friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Nick Como of Downtown Alliance.
The collaborative effort of area organizations and business provides a variety of entertainment and activities that appeal to a wide range of people.
However, for Johnson, the biggest attraction of it all begins just as the night ends on New Year’s Eve.
“Shooting fireworks is one of those things where it’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “But you know, for like 10 or 15 minutes, you’re a rock star.”