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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

December 30, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Setting up New Year's fireworks on top of the Space Needle

Posted by ALAN BERNER

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Pyro technicians Matthew Gilfillan, left, and Scott Streeper move bundles of fireworks into place atop the Space Needle 535-feet above the Seattle skyline Friday. The annual show starts with a countdown at 11:59 pm on New Year's Eve and lasts more than 8-minutes.

If you're afraid of heights don't go to the top of the Space Needle. If you're afraid of ladders, definitely do not go.

Friday morning 14 members of the local media took the elevator to the observation deck and then climb a series of stairs and ladders to the top just below the tower and its beacon. This, after signing a waiver.

From this vantage point we could get a glimpse of Pyro Spectaculars workers moving fireworks bundles into place. Writers, photographers, videographers, television and radio reporters were there for the once-a-year opportunity. In truth, the ladders are the most dangerous part. They're steep and you have to ascend and descend face first holding all your gear. You can feel the movements of the Needle ever so slightly.

At least I thought I could.

We're almost 570-feet up in a 30-mile per hour wind. It is cold. The wind kept blowing one camera strap over my head as I leaned out to photograph the workers 35-feet below. But the best view is actually through a hatch at the roof level. From there, because of a grating that swings up and blocks most of the view, I'm pre-focusing and shooting not looking through the camera, but reaching out with my right hand holding onto the ladder with my left hand.

This is why waivers are signed.

We take turns at the top of the ladder. And it all works out because it must.

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Recent entries

Thanks for this years obligatory guy-walking-on-the-space-needle-to-prep-fireworks story. I'd forgotten all about this since the exact same...  Posted on December 31, 2011 at 11:20 AM by BigKevin. Jump to comment
wow this is very cool - thanks for this story - you are a brave soul  Posted on December 31, 2011 at 11:17 AM by cantwaittillsummer. Jump to comment