The Human Firecracker

Coopersville, Michigan

Go early. Stay late. Listen. Those are three rules that I have learned were so important to be a successful photojournalist. Last week I photographed this wonderful assignment for the Detroit News. I got there early, stayed REALLY late and I did a lot of listening to one of the most interesting people I’ve met in a long time. When that gentleman collapsed among the crowd, slightly injured after his firecracker stunt, he yelled, “No photos! Only her!” I appreciate the trust that John Fletcher “The Human Firecracker” had in me to tell his story visually. Happy retirement to you, John, and thank you.

Read Francis X. Donnelly’s Detroit News story and see more photos here.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, walks around handing out T-shirts before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, walks around handing out T-shirts before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, takes a break from handing out T-shirts to snuggle with his dog "Little Bit" before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, takes a break from handing out T-shirts to snuggle with his dog “Little Bit” before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, dances before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, dances before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

The Pink Floyd tribute band "In the Flesh" takes the stage right before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

The Pink Floyd tribute band “In the Flesh” takes the stage right before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

From left, Al Potter, 45, of Muskegon, Marjorie Samlow, 46, of Fruitport, and Amy Van Hees, 29, also of Fruitport, listen to the band Eighth and Amsterdam  before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

From left, Al Potter, 45, of Muskegon, Marjorie Samlow, 46, of Fruitport, and Amy Van Hees, 29, also of Fruitport, listen to the band Eighth and Amsterdam before Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, right, tips his hat to festival goer, Matt Keasey, 47, of Grand Haven before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's time to hang up my proverbial hat and take a bow one last time as a daredevil," he said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, right, tips his hat to festival goer, Matt Keasey, 47, of Grand Haven before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s time to hang up my proverbial hat and take a bow one last time as a daredevil,” he said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, jumps on a table to show off his firecracker suit before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, jumps on a table to show off his firecracker suit before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, performs for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

A crowd rushes to the aid of Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, after he collapsed at the end of his performance. Fletcher performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body. "It's like being strapped into a lightning bolt." Fletcher said.

A crowd rushes to the aid of Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, after he collapsed at the end of his performance. Fletcher performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. “It’s like being strapped into a lightning bolt.” Fletcher said. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher suffered a bloody nose from the firecracker explosion. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher suffered a bloody nose from the firecracker explosion. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, was helped to a table to await the Crockery Township Fire Department who took his vitals after he performed for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, waves to the crowd before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher's firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person's body.

Pinckney resident John Fletcher, 51, waves to the crowd before performing for the last time as Ghengis John the Human Firecracker during the Conestoga Bike Fest in Coopersville, Michigan on Saturday, June 28th. Fletcher’s firecracker suit had more than 10,500 firecrackers and he was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for most firecrackers ever ignited while strapped to a person’s body. © Detroit News

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2 responses

  1. Great work, Kendra!

    July 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm

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