Opinion: Fireworks heavyweights push Honda Celebration of Light to new level

May 25 2016, 11:01 pm

Never has there ever been so much excitement for a fireworks competitor in the history of the Honda Celebration of Light summer fireworks festival.

The Vancouver Fireworks Society announced this past spring that Walt Disney Creative Entertainment, a division of the Walt Disney Company, will be given the responsibility to design and produce the fireworks representing the entry from the United States on the final night.

Walt Disney Creative Entertainment carries out all of Disney’s theatrical and technical live entertainment productions. This includes the large scale shows, parades, and fireworks displays for every Disney theme park around the world.

To say the least, the reaction on social media today was immediate and virtually universally positive.

“I think we all know who is going to win this summer… Not going to miss this for anything!” said a post on Facebook.

One commentator wrote that it is a “dream come true” while another wrote, “Game over. The rest need not apply.”

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Of course, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Disney’s corporate empire can be best described as the world’s factory for happiness, and it has legions of fans spanning virtually all generations – from today’s youngsters to the millennials to older generations. There are many adults who will embrace their inner child if the opportunity presents itself.

When it comes to fireworks, the company is renowned worldwide for delivering innovative and highly synchronized extravagant nightly displays at its theme parks. The company’s culture of perfection, synchronization, and drive and ability of optimizing the mundane in anything seeps into its fireworks displays.

If Disney plays it right, it will combine its nostalgia factor, storytelling, and aptness for coordination to deliver a stirring show that Metro Vancouverites and visitors from abroad expect to see.

Attendance for Disney’s USA-themed show could break single-night attendance records if weather conditions are optimal. It will be held on the final night of the fireworks festival, on a Saturday night.

Historically, the Celebration of Light’s final night has usually been the most highly attended of the fireworks nights. Last year’s final night, with Team Canada performing, saw an estimated 500,000 spectators – representing approximately half of the entire three-night attendance total.

However, it will not be a slam dunk for Disney to win the title. The company does have some serious competition from Australia, represented by Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics – a 94-year-old, four-generation, family-operated, award-winning fireworks institution.

Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics was responsible for the extravagant fireworks displays during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games at Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010.

This Australian company is no stranger to synchronization and coordination either. And like Disney, it is also a global leader in the development of new and improved pyrotechnics technology.

On the whole, Australia has a rich fireworks tradition, being the host of two of the world’s largest annual fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, the citywide shows in Sydney and Melbourne – where fireworks leap off bridges, the rooftops of downtown skylines, and numerous barges.

As for Royal Fireworks, the Overijssel-based company that will represent the Netherlands, less is known about the organization. It recently competed in the World Pyro Olympics, also referred to as the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition – an immense international fireworks competition held at Manila’s SM Mall of Asia that involves 12 countries over six days.

This year’s festival will be the first time Netherlands has been represented in the event and the first time Australia has put on a show for Vancouver since 2000.

Overall, the field of competition – the level of talent – for Vancouver’s signature summer event has reached a whole new level.

The 2016 Honda Celebration of Light takes place in English Bay and is visible from the beaches of downtown Vancouver and Kitsilano. Each show is 25 minutes long and starts at 10 p.m., rain or shine.

Netherlands will kick off the 26th annual fireworks festival on Saturday, July 23, followed by Australia on Wednesday, July 27 and the United States on Saturday, July 30.

Daily Hive Vancouver is a proud Media Partner of
the 2016 Honda Celebration of Light

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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