THE JOY OF FIREWORKS
The spectacle of firework shows in Pattaya is a major part of life celebration and great reason to go ‘wooooh!’
Some would say the cost of sending money up in smoke is a waste, but who can honestly say that their lives are not enhanced by this modern entertainment. Modern?
Many historians believe that fireworks originally were developed in the second century B.C. in ancient Liuyang, China. It is believed that the first natural ‘firecrackers’ were bamboo stalks that when thrown in a fire, would explode with a bang because of the overheating of the hollow air pockets in the bamboo. The Chinese believed these natural “firecrackers” would ward off evil spirits.
Sometime during the period 600-900 AD, legend has it that a Chinese alchemist mixed potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal to produce a black, flaky powder – the first “gunpowder”. This powder was poured into hallowed out bamboo sticks (and later stiff paper tubes) forming the first man made fireworks.
Fireworks made their way to Europe in the 13th century and by the 15th century they were widely used for religious festivals and public entertainment. The Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks and European rulers were especially fond of the use of fireworks to “enchant their subjects and illuminate their castles on important occasions.”
Early U.S. settlers brought their love of fireworks with them to the New World and fireworks were part of the very first Independence Day.
However, the fireworks of today are a lot more advanced than the ones at George Washington’s backyard barbecue. It’s not just about new colours and bigger explosions, it’s also about the way that modern fireworks shows are composed like symphonies. They’re a bit more complicated than lighting a fuse and running for cover.
There are a million different kinds of fireworks out there, ones that explode in a giant ball of strangely colored flame, ones that kerplow in the shape of a ringed planet, ones that whistle all the way up, and the ones that boom so powerful.
But it hasn’t always been that way. Some time in the Italian Renaissance, pyrotechnicians realized they could get additional colors out of their kablams by adding ingredients like charcoal and steel. Today, they can conjure virtually any color imaginable by packing the gunpowder in various metal salts — copper for blue, barium for green, and strontium for red.
Besides the color, the things that set fireworks apart from each other are their size, sound, and shape. All three of those come down to the design of the shell. When you cram a lot of gunpowder into a small container, that’s when you get a huge bang.
For a whistle, you need slow-burning chemicals pushing a steady stream of gas through a narrow tube. And to make a crackling sound, a firework has to be full of lead oxide, which pops and fizzles as it vaporizes in the air. As for the shape of the explosion, that depends on the arrangement of the firework’s ‘stars’, the small, explosive studs that spark into the actual points of light.
New ingredients and shell designs may have opened up a world of colors and shapes, but digital innovations are what really make modern fireworks displays possible.
Programs such as ‘Finale Fireworks’ make creating a show a lot like composing a piece of music. You choose a soundtrack and backdrop, then drag and drop different types of fireworks into the extravaganza of your dreams. Wildest of all, when your simulated grand finale is complete, you can export the show to a computerized firework-firing system. The result is incredible shapes in the sky that couldn’t be drawn without the precision of a digital system.
In Pattaya, at Beach Road, we are lucky to witness the amazing shows put on by various countries competing in competition every year.
Gauranteed to put a smile on the faces of young and old, it’s an amazing way to be entertained….for free!