Friday, 4 July 2008

Fireworks in San Diego, Quebec City and, perhaps, Iraq

The Fourth of July is the day when my father would be reluctantly persuaded to drive us to the edge of a cliff overlooking Mission Bay in San Diego so we could see the celebatory fireworks in the distance. He hated crowds so he would never take us to the amusement park where the pyrotechnics were set off so we could see them up close. When Montreal began to have a fireworks competition at the old Expo 67 amusement park in the middle of the St. Lawrence, I began to understand his reluctance better. We took the kids once, which meant huge crowds on the Jacques Cartier bridge which overlooks the display. Since then the fireworks have become almost routine, with regular displays in addition to the 10 summer shows.

But last night Quebec City saw the grand-daddy (or perhaps, le grandpapa) of pyrotechnic shows. Some 7500 individual items--supposedly the largest number in Canadian history--were set off from barges in the St. Lawrence while hundreds of thousands watched from the shore and the bridges. Shipping was stopped on the St. Lawrence for the first time in the summer since Quebec City was founded. And the founding of the city is of course what the celebration was all about: the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Samuel de Champlain on July 3, 1608.

A lot of water has flowed down the St. Lawrence since then. Empires have risen and fallen, a fact that is good to remember during patriotic celebrations. Quebec City had been existence nearly 170 years when the Declaration of Independence was signed, while there had been great cities on the shores of the Euphrates a good 3,000 years.

What kind of fireworks will there be in Baghdad today?


Dagny said...

Ever since I saw the fireworks at Disney World when I was kid, I was enchanted. I, too like to stay away from crowds and spent this year out on my roof watching them. It was as if the sky was lit up with sparkling weeping willows.

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Mary Soderstrom said...

Lovely image.