The amazing fireworks last night

I had the good fortune to see the July Fourth fireworks from the balcony of a penthouse apartment on Riverside Drive at 118th Street overlooking the Hudson River, where the fireworks were being fired from barges several miles to our south, but seemingly right in front of us. In recent years fireworks have kept getting better and better, both technically and aesthetically, and this year’s display continued that advance. It was a wondrous thing to behold.

A reader who saw the fireworks from further uptown writes:

We watched the fireworks from the south-facing 13th floor balcony of a friend. With the towering, suspended bulk of the fully illuminated George Washington Bridge in the foreground, and the nighttime skyline reflected in the river stretching away to the south, it was a spectacular sight. The fireworks were pretty spectacular, too. My favorite were those shells that exploded as red watercolor smears across the sky, and then seemed to just hang there, suspended, before gradually fading. It must have been breathtaking to be right underneath, but we’ve never been willing to brave the crowd down there at night. It was quite splendid watching from the safety of our northern Manhattan refuge, our eagle’s nest aerie.

Watching it I realized: there are fireworks artists. Guys who know explosives and think up new colors, combinations, and shapes. They make up prototypes, concoct new shell experiments, and then go out at night, probably at some remote research facility in the Arizona desert, go out and shoot them off to see what happens, what works, what doesn’t. Fun job. And then there are fireworks engineers, the guys who developed the systems; computer, electrical, and mechanical, for firing off large numbers of shells in safety and with total synchronized control. And then there are, or is, the fireworks choreographer, the guy who decides which shells to use to accompany and illustrate each song and programs the computer to fire the exact shells required at precise times.

Did you listen to the musical program while the fireworks were going? Someone tuned it in about halfway through. It’s a fine idea, to have a musical accompaniment, and they chose some classic American songs. But the black woman who sang the national anthem made a mess of it—a belting, gospel power scream with ridiculous added notes—no dignity.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 05, 2011 01:37 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):