This is a July 1st Canada Day weekend. And July 4 follows in the U.S. This means fireworks events, drawing crowds by the thousands.
I have thought about the subject at length and I have culled the common characteristics of all fireworks displays. These are my observations.
Firstly for some reason there is always an air of uncertainty as to where the event will be happening in the first place. Debates often break out amongst pundits on this subject:
"This year on Canada Day it's at Ontario Place."
"No you're wrong; it was at Ontario Place on Victoria Day. On Canada Day it's at Wonderland."
Before certain statutory holidays there is a massive turn to the media to confirm the place of the big event. And frequently even the media are uncertain. You'll see a bulletin on CP 24 News: "Fireworks? On Canada Day, at High Park; we think."
And when the big event does roll along there is usually a traffic nightmare. Police cordon off the area as hoards of people make their way on foot to the hallowed site. And even once there, the question most asked by one and all as they jostle for a good observation spot is, "From where will they shoot them off?"
I joined the mob at Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square one Canada Day and the fireworks were shot off a block away east of Yonge Street. A year later as everyone was gawking in the same direction, suddenly the fireworks came out of the opposite direction from over the top of the Mel’s Bells themselves. Ten thousand people did an immediate 180 degree turn. Those who arrived early for a good spot had some unflattering things to say about Mel.
The need to see fireworks is inexplicable. Even after a few neighbours fire off a several rounds of colourful fireworks at a parkette near my house, many of us still hang around a while in expectation of seeing at least another couple of Roman candles. Last Victoria Day when the local neighbourhood event was over no one had left yet. The crowd was desperate I'd say. A kid suddenly lit up a sparkler and a hundred people ran over shouting, "Hey, there's more!”
My favourite observation at a fireworks display is the audience reaction. A recording of people’s sounds at a fireworks shindig would sound like this:
Hey, it's starting.
Ohhh.....Ughhh...Ohhh...Wow...Hey Derrick, look at the red ones. And hold my hand or you'll get lost.
Poof, poof, pop pop, bang bang...
Ahhh...ohhhh...Ooohh...OMG!...This looks just like the one they had at the Olympics.
Ohhh...Ahhh....Sounds like a machine gun.
No, its' called "Invading Starship
Shhh. Don't make noise. We're trying to listen.
Is that all? It's over?? That was fast... Derrick? Derrick?..Where’s Derrick?"
Like I said I don't know what attracts us to fireworks displays. Are we awestruck by the lights? Is it the colours? Do the sounds mesmerize us? Who knows? I do know however that I'll be coming back for more. On Canada Day I'll be at Wonderland. Or is it Ashbridges Bay Park?