Thunder on the Mountain
- This article is about the fireworks display. For the motorcycle drag race, see Vulcan Bike Week.
From 2001 to 2016 the show was designed and created by Pyro Productions of Adamsville. Since the completion of renovations to Vulcan Park in 2004, it has been launched from the southwest corner of the park's upper parking lot at 9:00 P.M. The park closes at 6:00 to prepare for the show.
Recognized by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission as the Alabama Bicentennial Fireworks, the 2019 event, produced by Pyro Shows of Alabama, lasted for approximately 20 minutes and included 2,500 shells. The show was presented by Spire, with additional support from the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, the City of Birmingham, the Jefferson County Commission Bicentennial Celebration, the City of Homewood, UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, iHeart Media, W252BE-FM (La Jefa 98.3), and WBRC-6.
The 2018 Thunder on the Mountain, produced by Pyro Shows of Alabama, lasted for approximately 20 minutes and included 2,500 shells. For the first time the fireworks were accompanied by a choreographed light scheme made possible by new lights and controls installed as part of the Kiwanis Centennial Park. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based lighting designer Marc Brickman created that element of the show.
The 2017 production was carried out by Pyro Shows of Alabama, which acquired Pyro Productions the previous year. The 20-minute program began seven minutes late and was interrupted by long pauses, including one before the finale that convinced many viewers that the show had ended. General Manager Danny Turner said a computer glitch was the cause of the delays.
The 2014 show was choreographed by Jeff Neu to a 22-minute soundtrack. It was aired live on Fox 6 and the soundtrack simulcast on WZZK-FM, WBPT-FM (106.9 The Eagle), WPYA-FM (Easy 97.3), WBHK-FM (98.7 Kiss FM), WBHJ-FM (95.7 Jamz), W252BE (La Jefa 98.3), FM 107.3 (Birmingham Mountain Radio), and WQCR-AM (Juan AM 1500).
It will also be telecast on WBRC Fox-6.
The 2012 show included songs by the Steve Miler Band, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Dierks Bentley, G. Love & Special Sauce, The Temptations, Rihanna, Donna Summer and Phil Driscoll with Ray Charles, as well as a brief message from Mayor William Bell.
Facing financial shortfalls, the Vulcan Park and Museum initially asked the city of Birmingham for $10,000 to ensure that the fireworks show would be on par with previous years. However, park officials withdrew the request before the city council could vote on it, due to protests from city workers who are facing salary cuts in the 2011 City of Birmingham Budget. Park president Darlene Negrotto stated that the show would be scaled back but would go on.
Pyro promised a longer, bigger show for 2008 with a number of elaborate high-quality shells purchased from Europe and Japan, many of which had never been used in Birmingham. The show's soundtrack, broadcast on WYSF and WZRR, included the song "I'll be in Birmingham Tonight" by Kevin Derryberry and wrapped up with U2's "Beautiful Day".
Colonial Bank joined Dale's Seasoning, WBRC-TV, Big Communications and Citadel Broadcasting as sponsors.
Pyro increased the length of the production for 2007. The soundtrack, broadcast on WZRR, WYSF and WJOX, was expanded to include a wider variety of music as well as the "Voice of Vulcan". Sponsors included WBRC 6, Citadel Communications, Dale's Seasoning, Crazy Bill's Fireworks, Standard Furniture, and the Vulcan Park foundation.
Because it took place during a drought, several Birmingham Fire & Rescue engine companies were in the area of Red Mountain in the event that the shells caused a fire.
The soundtrack for the 2006 show included "Sweet Home Alabama" recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Dueling Banjos" recorded by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel, and "Proud to be an American" recorded by Lee Greenwood.
MyFoxAL.com held a promotional contest with the winner receiving four passes to watch the display from the Fox6 Patio. Leslie Sanderson of Fultondale won the drawing. WRAX 100.5 hosted a viewing party on the top level of the Children's Hospital Parking Deck. Live coverage was provided on WBRC.
2001 featured competing fireworks shows on Red Mountain. SkyConcert 2001, the 16th in the annual series sponsored by WZZK-FM, was held on Saturday June 30 while the inaugural Thunder on the Mountain launched on July 4. Both shows ran for 17 minutes and both used the former Baby Doe's Matchless Mine site, but Thunder on the Mountain spent three times more on shells and launched some from Vulcan Park as well.
- Reynolds, Ed (July 19, 2001) "Dueling Fireworks." Black & White
- Folsade, John (July 4, 2008) "Birmingham's Thunder on the Mountain boasts new fireworks, new effects." The Birmingham News
- Gray, Jeremy (June 24, 2010) "Lack of funds could scale back Thunder on the Mountain fireworks show." The Birmingham News
- Kennedy, Joey (June 30, 2010) "Fireworks or motorcycles -- should the Birmingham City Council fund either?" The Birmingham News
- Colurso, Mary (July 5, 2012) "Which songs sparkle at Birmingham's 'Thunder on the Mountain' fireworks show?." The Birmingham News
- Almond, Mark (July 3, 2014) "After months of preparation Birmingham's "Thunder on the Mountain' fireworks display is ready to ignite." The Birmingham News
- Featherston, Emily (June 22, 2017) "Thunder on the mountain, fire in the sky" The Homewood Star
- Edgemon, Erin (July 5, 2017) "Technical glitch blamed for out of sync Thunder on the Mountain fireworks show." The Birmingham News
- Songer, Joe (July 4, 2019) "Amazing fireworks at Vulcan Park celebrating Alabama's Bicentennial." The Birmingham News