4th of July Tiki Style

4th of July sort of snuck up on us this year. Starting in 2008, we started a tradition of building a reflecting pool and a raised platform to create a better display for our Safe and Sane fireworks.

The first year, we found some huge lumber in the yard that we used to create an 8’x8′ pool. We lined it with 3.5 mil plastic sheeting typically used as a paint drop cloth. It leaked immediately, of course, but it was enough to keep the water in for a few hours. A raised shelf-like platform was placed behind the pool to light the fireworks from. It worked really well and was a big hit.

It was a moral imperative that the second year’s reflecting pool was bigger and better than the first. Since we were in the middle of constructing our permanent pond, we happened to have a pallet of cinder blocks. Reflecting pool 2.0 was 10′ x 20′ and made out of stacked cinder blocks with the cheap plastic liner.

When it came time to plan for this year’s reflecting pool, we didn’t have enough cinder blocks to build even a small one, and it felt wrong to just build the 8’x8′ again. We were lacking a plan or motivation to get going on the project. On Saturday afternoon on July 3rd, we decided we couldn’t just light fireworks on the blacktop, so we started brainstorming. I remembered that we had a 50 gallon drum in the backyard, so I suggested a tiki with fire or sitting in a pool. Wire and I brainstormed like crazy with sketches and even called to our neighbor to see if he had any metal cutting tools (to cut out the eyes and mouth for fire). Wire came up with the idea to turn the barrel so the open side was up and just let water flow over the edge. There are 3 brackets just inside the lip that we could place a piece of slate (also found in our yard) on to light the fireworks from.

The only flaw in that plan, besides running out of time, was that we needed a big pump. I remembered that we found an old swimming pool pump in the quonset hut, but we didn’t know if it worked. Our neighbor ran back with a pigtail so we could splice the wires and test it out. It worked!

For some reason we got it in our heads to place the tiki in a kiddie swimming pool that we would either paint or line with the plastic sheeting. So, I left the house at 4pm to find a large kiddie pool, spray paint and plastic liner. 4 stores and 2 cities later, I only had the spray paint and some sushi (I forgot about the liner). While we happily chowed down on the sushi, Wire remembered that we still had the 8′ boards, so I just needed to go to Home Depot the next day to pick that up. After dinner, Wire sprayed the first coat of brown.

We wound up staying up until 1:00am watching Team America with our neighbor. I went to bed after the movie. Wire stayed up and put another coat of brown on the tiki.

I got up and went to Home Depot to pick up the plastic sheet and some masking paper to sketch the tiki face on. Wire put another coat of brown on and made the pool frame. I got to work sketching the tiki as soon as I returned. I used one of the tikis that Vette gave to Wire for his birthday as a model. I cut out the stencil, then went to work masking. I used a ton of tape to mask each and every little curve. It took me about an hour to tape it. It was now 1:45pm. We still needed to paint several layers on the tiki, build his platform and make sure the water idea was going to work. Yikes.

We finished the painting at 3:00pm. I had to add a little hand painting since the red eyes against the brown didn’t stand out enough. When that dried, Wire placed the tiki on the platform (again all stuff found around the yard – blocks, styrofoam and wood planks).

At 3:45pm, we started filling the pool with water when we realized the wind blew the liner around and the platform inside the pool, along with the tiki, would have to be moved back out to fix it. Or, rip the liner where it was stapled to the wood, move it as needed, and use a bunch of duct tape. We went the duct tape route. We were hot and tired and no one wanted to move any more cinder blocks or heavy drums.

At 4:10pm, we had a fully functioning tiki firework water feature display stage! Hooray!

Now, to start cleaning up the yard and the house and decorate with less than 2 hours before the guests started arriving. Believe it or not, we did it. We were quite pooped when everyone showed up, but we got a second wind and it was one of the best 4th of Julys I have ever had.

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2 Responses

  1. I lurve it!!! He turned out AWESOME! You guys should kill yourselves more often with last minute projects like this because you clearly work well under pressure. Love all the pictures (especially the last ones) and can’t wait to see him in person.

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