Last night I went to the Celebration of Light fireworks at English Bay, the second of four evenings of fireworks this summer. Nic, who conveniently lives only a few blocks away, suggested we head out early. I, not living conveniently a few blocks away, caught the #22 and came downtown, noting the conspicuous steady stream of people heading beachward. As I stood at the intersection of Davie and Thurlow a couple of young guys approached me. One of them asked if I knew where they could get beer. I advised them that there was a cold beer and wine store just a block or so down the street. The guys nodded and thanked me, walking away. The one guy then came back and asked, “What about bud?” I decided not to play cute by acting as if he was looking for someone named Bud and simply shrugged, saying “Around”, which is fairly accurate as far as that thing goes.
Shortly after 7 we headed down to set up near the Inukshuk, which, like all other public art/statuary in the area, had been surrounded by temporary fencing. There was also a row of nearby port-a-potties and what seemed to be a miniature strip mall hastily assembled along the walk on English Bay beach, selling ice cream and glow-in-the-dark lightsabers, among other things. Initially we sat on some of the rocks just off the path, watching the outgoing tide lap up just out of reach but after experiencing profound numb butt I suggested we move slightly back and sit on the edge of the pavement. Much better.
This was the view looking straight ahead from our position, where False Creek meets English Bay. Everything from dinghies to cabin cruisers were bobbing in the choppy water. A few people were even seen briefly swimming, which isn’t the first thing I’d do when surrounded by a million boats.
(click to enlarge)
We witnessed at least three groups of people getting picked up by small boats. The people in the shot below were actually sitting and standing near us for a good while, their conversation bearing witness that the price for a beautiful body is made up for in the brain department. I am of the belief that the guys are genetically designed to always have their underwear sticking out. They simply can’t help themselves.
Speaking of young men with their underwear sticking out, another group had planted itself on the rocks ahead of us. As the day turned to dusk, a couple of police officers came along behind us and asked one of the young men to step forward. As we watched the rock-top interrogation, a small plastic pouch was removed from the p0cket of the young man and he was escorted away for his own private fireworks show. I shall call him Bud.
Looking to our right you can see the rather sizable crowd gathered two hours in advance on English Bay Beach.
Everyone was remarkably well-behaved. A guy sitting in front of us and whose cigarette smoke consistently blew directly into my face left after a few minutes when it became apparent that his friends were not prepared to sit on rocks. A girl to my left watched the fireworks and kept muttering a simple, quiet “Wow” throughout. At one point she expanded on this to her friends: “I really love fireworks.” It was cute — really! The crowd was there to kick back and enjoy the show.
And it was a good show. The Spanish entrant chose to use iconic (and bombastic) classical music — Ride of the Valkyries and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (better known as the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey) but their pyrotechnics were up to the task of matching the grandeur of the music. Last year I saw China’s show and it fizzled out to a limp finale. Maybe rockets don’t fly as high when they’re lined with lead. Spain, however, delivered a rousing series of overlapping explosions that let you know this was the big finish. Most people went home satisfied, I suspect.
Getting out of downtown was surprisingly painless. I walked with the orderly masses down to Burrard and Pender and only waited a few minutes for a #19 to show up. I was home within the hour. Kudos to transit (who imagined such a thing being said by me?) for keeping on top of the giant crowds for these events.