Thursday, September 10, 2009

From the Roof of an Abandoned Brewery, Summer Ends in a Blaze of Disappointing Explosions Above a Midwestern Skyline



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The smoke began to clear over the river and was blowing north towards downtown engulfing the skyscrapers and skyline in a haze. "That was it?" I muttered to Venkman and Seicer. We had been waiting all summer since we had discovered our super secret fireworks viewing spot and all we had to say was: "That was it?"

For me, Summer had ended two weeks ago when I had gone back to school, but for many around this area summer comes to a close at the end of labor day weekend with the traditional WEBN Riverfest fireworks. For others the end of summer can be signified with the oncoming start of football season. I started Labor Day weekend by taking up famous local blogger 5chw4r7z's offer to watch the final Bengals pre-season game from the roof of his building, Parker Flats.


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- 5chw4r7z sets up his camera for a shot on his roof. Paul Brown Stadium in the background.


As the sun descended and the game began we took in the view of the surrounding area, including everybody's favorite abandoned brewery which will play a bigger part in this story later.


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- The abandoned Hudepohl Brewing Company.


More views from the roof of Parker Flats:


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The Bengals were successful in defeating the Colts second and third strings 38 - 7. Will they be any good this season? I don't know, but I do know that Parker Flats and 5chw4r7z have a great view:


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In my line of work Labor Day weekend is a big deal. In my five years at my current employer I've never once had the Sunday before Labor Day off and as a kid had never seen the annual WEBN fireworks in person, just on television and in photographs. Everyone spoke about them as if no other fireworks show could compare.

For the first time I had the day of Riverfest off. I met Venkman in Clifton where we hopped on the #18 Metro to Government Square.


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Walking from the square to Sawyer Point I noticed that traffic and the crowds were not as bad as everyone had made them out to be.


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- Crowds gather on the Serpentine Wall in anticipation for the fireworks later that night.



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- Redneck gargoyles claim their spots atop the Serpentine Wall


Venkman and I crossed the Taylor-Southgate bridge to see if the top of our super secret fireworks viewing point could be seen in the distance.


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The day before some of my photographs and this website were featured in an article by the Cincinnati Business Courier regarding the abandoned Hudepohl Brewery, a location that has been documented on this website before. The city of Cincinnati is currently seeking to file chargers against the owners of the property who have let the crumbling structure become a public nuisance.

“The site is horrendous,” Forman said. “The fire department has exhausted all their patience. They’ve been dealing with this for years. What we fear is that someone, a firefighter, a homeless person or one of these urban explorers, is going to enter that building and plummet to their death.” - Assistant Cincinnati Prosecutor Keith Forman, Cincinnati Business Courier 9/4/09



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- The overgrown and crumbling Hudepohl Brewery.

When we had explored the old brewery back in the summer we decided that the rooftop would make an excellent spot to see the WEBN fireworks from. So as the various parties fighting over the building's fate took a break for the holiday weekend, we once again climbed to the top of Mt. Hudepohl.

The sun began to set, the view was spectacular, the fireworks neared and we realized we had forgotten a radio.


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The iHeartRadio application on my Blackberry would have to substitute for a "boom box." Test shots were fired into the air. These preliminary rounds exploded just behind the Cincinnati Enquirer building, just out of our line of sight. Nothing to worry about though, we figured the real fireworks would ascend well above the test ammunition and city skyline into the night sky.

Paratroopers feel from the sky and the countdown began. The theme song from "Terminator" played over the small cell phone speakers and the first fireworks flew into the air. "Son of a Bitch!" I shouted as we realized our worst fear had come true. The fireworks were concealed behind the skyline, our vantage point sucked.


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As the first few minutes of the show took place, all we could see was smoke and the flashing lights and colors of the exploding shells. The occasional burst would ever so slightly peek over the Enquirer building.


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Ten minutes into the show our view got even worse. The buildup of smoke prevented us from getting any more chances at clear shots and really prevented us from seeing any hint of the show.


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Not soon after the radio announcer proclaimed a thank you to all the sponsors and informed the listeners the show was over. "That was it?"I muttered to Venkman and Seicer. We didn't even know the grand finale had occurred and the show seemed like it was much shorter than the "30 minutes" everyone had been talking about. Despite our less-than-perfect vantage point, it seemed the WEBN fireworks were not as cracked up as they were made out to be. After talking to some friends and reading the latest article on The Phony Coney, it seems this years show was really scaled back. The Provost of Cincinnati issued a call to bring back a larger show and second barge in the aftermath of the fireworks.

To the folks at WEBN and Clear Channel who were apparently responsible for this crappy show...we salute you:


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- Photo by Seicer.


We retreated to the Queen City Disco secret hideout to enjoy Jimmy John's and a six pack of Hudey Delight, paying tribute to the abandoned Hudepohl Brewing Company and drawing our summer of exploring to a close. Here's to exploring in the fall, winter and new year.

To the readers of Queen City Discovery: I'd love to be able to photograph these fireworks from an awesome perspective next year. If anyone would be willing to let some photographers have access to their own super secret fireworks viewing spots we would greatly appreciate it and be willing to return the favor (I.E. Bring food or make you a large print of one of the photographs that would be taken.) Shoot me an email if you have any ideas/advice on places to photograph the fireworks from.

Thanks for reading,
- Gordon Bombay

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8 comments:

  1. Born in Florence Kentucky, now a [temporary] Clifton resident and UC student. Love the city of Cinci--so don't read this the wrong way.

    I went to the fireworks all but 2 years from 1988-2005 on a boat, once of tv, 3 times on shore. They def scaled back this year--most of the show is paid by [now money troubled] sponsors.

    In my experiences, the best view is from the KY side. 1st-the smoke always blows with the jetstream towards OH. 2nd-the amazing Cinci skyline adds much more to the show.

    Verdict--make friends with somebody with a home on the KY side. Im not sure there are any abandoned buildings tall enough with a good sight line. Maybe the top of vacant Jillian's?

    Try it out next year...

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  2. Dustin,

    First, thanks for coming to the site and checking it out!

    Second, thanks for sharing your experience. I can certainly understand the scaled back show due to the economy and such. I'll definitely be taking your advice and trying to make some Kentucky friends soon. Here's to next year!

    Good luck at UC and thanks for checking out QC/D!

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  3. i work for a fireworks company based in cincinnati that works very closely with Rozzi's Famous Fireworks, the company contracted by WEBN to put on the fireworks display. Dustin, you were right, the budget of the show was dramatically lower this year which is why there was not a lot of the high aerial effects like in previous years. also, this was the first time in close to 30 years that this show was not scripted(writing the show to match up the pyrotechnic effects with the music and perfecting the synchronization) by Arthur Rozzi, the former president of the company. Art Rozzi was in charge of the 4th of July show with the Boston Pops that is nationally broadcasted every year.

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  4. ^Andrew, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read/comment and share your insight. Your company wouldn't happen to be hiring would they?

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  5. I concur with Andrew's comments. I also work very closely with the Rozzi family and can confirm all comments. Very interested in the reply comment from Gordon....Are you interested in joining a fireworks crew? If so reply to this comment and I will contact you.

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  6. ^Anonymous sorry it took me so long to reply to this, I am definitely interested. Shoot me an email at queencitydisco@gmail.com if you don't mind! Thank you!

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  7. Great photographs for real! Time no see pictures like those. Must be beautiful and exciting staying right there seen that beautiful shows and would be better if you are with some special person

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