23 July 2009

Celebration of Light: Night One

Crowds cheer fireworks wizardry at Celebration of Light

By David Karp, Vancouver Sun
July 23, 2009 8:31 AM

VANCOUVER — Spectators whistled and cheered, aiming their cellphones and digital cameras at the sky as Canada launched this year’s fireworks competition with a spectacular burst of colour and pyrotechnics over English Bay.

“It’s awesome — bright colours — it’s mesmerizing. It just gives you a good feeling,” said Cathy Cardoza, who was visiting from San Francisco. “It’s longer and fuller [than Fourth of July] fireworks in San Francisco. There is more fullness in these fireworks. It’s not just one at a time.”

Overall, she said: “It made our vacation.”

An enormous crowd turned out for the show, and Davie Street was jammed with people trying to work their way toward the beach just before it began.

Canada, which is trying for a third straight victory in the annual HSBC Celebration of Light event, put on a Wizard of Oz-themed show titled No Place Like Home.

The music accompanying the show was from the Wizard of Oz, with the finale song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, accompanied by a spectacular rainbow of fireworks.

Earlier, the president of Winnipeg’s Archangel Fireworks Inc., which put on Canada’s show, said he was saving the best for the 12-second finale.

“The finale’s a nice size this year,” said Kelly Guille. “I don’t really want to ruin it.”

As for the rest of the show: “I’m shooting to the Wizard of Oz original soundtrack, trying to evoke the emotion of the story in the scenes of the fireworks.”

Guille said he has been preparing for the show since November. It took 12 people three days just to set up the 25-minute performance, which included roughly 3,000 fireworks.

Many people staked out spots on the beach hours before the fireworks began.

Among them was Vancouverite Darren Childs, a fireworks aficionado who has missed only three performances since the annual Vancouver event began.

Childs, who uses a wheelchair, arrived at 5 p.m. to claim a place by the inukshuk on English Bay, bypassing his normal spot in the wheelchair seating area on top of the English Bay bathhouse.

“I kind of like it because you are part of the people,” said Childs. “It’s a lot more fun being part of the festivities right on the beach.”

The next fireworks event is Saturday, when South Africa puts on a show, followed by the United Kingdom next Wednesday and China on Aug. 1.


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