The historic mingled with the spectacular on the 4th of July when Scharff Weisberg supported New York City Lites, which designed an innovative lighting show on the Hudson River for Duchess County Tourism.
This year marks the quadricentennial (Hudson 400) of the European founding of New York’s Hudson River Valley by Dutch explorer Henry Hudson. When Duchess County Tourism wanted something beyond fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July, it seized on the idea of devising a show around the John J. Harvey, one of the most powerful fireboats ever in service. Built in 1931 and now retired, although it was briefly reinstated on September 11, 2001, the John J. Harvey is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was recently part of the Great River Day Flotilla of vessels sailing upriver on the Hudson from the Statue of Liberty to Albany.
“Duchess County Tourism wanted something unique before and after the fireworks display,” says Deke Hazirjian, owner and president of New York City Lites and the show’s lighting designer. “They asked me for some ideas. I had lit a waterspray in Cornwall, England once and saw that it was a great medium for lighting projection. So I thought the fireboat’s jets would be a good ‘surface’ for a light show that wrapped around the fireworks. The John J. Harvey’s seven massive sprays were more than I could have ever hoped for!”
The fireboat positioned itself close to shore at the waterfront. Scharff Weisberg supplied four VARI*LITE VL3500 framing spot kits and eight VL3000 spot kits which Hazirjian used to project moving color patterns on the waterspray effectively using the fireboat as the light show’s screen. Programmer Paul Sonnleitner programmed the lighting cues on a grandMA console.
“The show was really great and very well received; it was a light show very different from what people normally see,” notes Josh Wachsman, New York City Lites’ General Manager. “With colors and gobo patterns in the waterspray it really added a bonus to the fireworks display.”
“Scharff Weisberg was terrific to work with, especially on a holiday weekend when equipment can be hard to get and transport,” says Hazirjian. Wachsman agrees. “Scharff Weisberg was great helping with ideas and very flexible. Their equipment and service was all top notch.”
At New York City Lites Eugene Meienhofer was the gaffer for the show and Jason Horn his assistant.
Ben Rollins was project manager for Scharff Weisberg.
Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications, firms with extensive histories in the presentation and staging markets, recently announced a co-ownership agreement. While continuing to operate independently the two companies work together strategically to provide clients with state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting equipment and services. With a strong presence on both coasts Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications are able to deliver a large array of cost-effective services on a national level. For more information, call 212-582-2345 or visit our website at
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