The excitement in the air was explosive today as the La Crosse Skyrockers prepared for their annual New Year's Eve fireworks display atop Grandad Bluff despite wintry weather.
The local group of pyrotechnic enthusiasts have counted down to the New Year each night in December by setting off fireworks at either Grandad Bluff or Pettibone Park, depending on the day of the week, for roughly 18 years.
Putting together displays are more than a hobby for the Skyrockers' public relations director, Marty Schmal, who has been with the group for 20 years: It's a tradition passed down from his father.
The volunteer-run group began roughly 89 years ago, when a couple of businessmen got together to shoot fireworks off Grandad Bluff, and grew into the locally beloved institution that organizes fiery displays for area Fourth of July celebrations, as well as the Winter Rec Fest, opening night of La Crosse's annual Rotary Lights display, and, of course, the New Year's Eve countdown.
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Turn your gaze skyward at midnight tonight (or at 6 p.m. for the preview show) to see the Skyrockers bid farewell to a tumultuous 2018 and heartily greet 2019 with a bang.