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2022 opens with a bang! || A 'Master Blaster' shows how to put on an awesome fireworks show in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg was more than ready Friday night to ring in the new year with a spectacular firework display and ball drop.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — For the 33rd time, Gatlinburg rang in the new year under the Space Needle in an explosive fashion.

Folks came from all across the country to enjoy one of the biggest New Year's fireworks displays in the South with a marvelous ball drop at midnight.

Throughout the day Friday, people shopped and enjoyed the restaurants and bars. At night, people were waiting in anticipation for the colorfully captivating fireworks that appeared to explode from all angles of the iconic 407-foot Space Needle.

There’s nothing quite like this breathtaking firework show to bring in the new year. But have you ever wondered what it takes to put on a display like this one?

Well, WBIR talked to the evening’s greatest showman, Dusty Harrell. He’s the “Master Blaster” of Impact Pyro -- a company out of Nashville that came to Gatlinburg to tackle the Space Needle NYE challenge.

“I hope it’s good, I hope that everybody enjoys it,” Harrell said before the big moment. “I like just the challenge of the job.”

He works mostly behind the scenes but he’s the man making your New Year’s Eve in the Great Smoky Mountains magical. You can watch all of the magic of their work when 2022 arrived below: 

“This is the first time I’ve every been interviewed. A lot of times people tell me, you know, like you got a bigger round of applause then what ever band was playing because you know what, who doesn’t love fireworks?” he said.

In many ways, Harrell is an artist – and even though many don’t realize it, he is the reason thousands gathered in Gatlinburg.

“At Impact Pyro we like to say we create art with explosions,” he said.

His passion for sparkling explosions ignited many years ago. 

“I remember being that kid and now I see kids enjoying it, 'Wow look at the explosions, and the color and all that.' That’s the fun part of it,” he said.

He not only does this firework show, but he’s also done several Fourth of July celebrations, birthdays and even celebrity weddings and events.

A lot more goes into a firework show like this one. Imagine setting up explosives on top of and on every side of a 407-foot tower. 

“We have a challenging show because we have a lot of different positions on the tower,” he said.

He and his crew come fully prepared with a wide range of safety gear and harnesses to reach the steep edges. Harrell says he loves a good challenge, and the iconic space needle, well, he’s up for it.

“3, 2, 1. 3, 2, 1. We let it fire!” he said.

To learn more about the Gatlinburg New Year’s Eve Celebration, click here.