Behind the Scenes

As we celebrate another Independence Day, I’m excited once again to join thousands of you on the Peoria Riverfront for UnityPoint’s Red White and Boom! fireworks display. If you’ve ever wondered about the coordination of such a massive and dazzling spectacle—the largest in the state—you’re in for a treat with this issue.

We spoke with Mike Wild of Alpha Media, who explains what it’s like to manage the show behind the scenes, as well as Bob Kerns, Director of Operations at Melrose Pyrotechnics. They’re the ones who “choreograph the sky,” synchronizing those colorful bursts of explosion in time to the right music. And then there are the logistics of loading two or three tons of fireworks onto the barge—the safety inspections, oversight and extensive planning that accompany this fascinating process.

Are you planning a trip this summer? While wanderlust sounds romantic, most trips must be thought out well in advance—just ask David and Betty Schlacter, who flew around the world in their single-engine plane in 2014. It’s a huge accomplishment—something just 200 others have ever achieved.

“They have sweated it out crossing oceans, mountains and deserts in a full circumnavigation of all the Earth's meridians, battled to secure landing and overflight permissions and pocketed memorable experiences in the process,” states, an online community connecting this elite group of adventurers. For the Schlacters, it was equally about the journey and the destination, as their 79-day trip found them visiting 27 countries across 30,000 miles. “The world is a lot smaller now,” Betty notes—a sentiment familiar to anyone who’s traveled extensively.

Elsewhere, in advance of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra’s 119th season, we sat down with Maestro George Stelluto to find out how he goes about building a season. He likens it to a grand meal of multiple courses, and as the master chef, he must ensure the right ingredients are present at the right proportions.

It’s not unlike the planning involved in producing a magazine—diving into topics both interesting and relevant, mixing the lesser known and familiar, drawing together a variety of pieces while maintaining some sort of focus.

Just as the Schlacters went around the world, so has art & society, as our readers have fun taking it on trips with them… from St. Petersburg, Florida to St. Petersburg, Russia and beyond. Check it out on page 53—where will you take it next? iBi