By Jennifer Stuart
We walked along the waterfront in the deepening twilight. It was a beautiful summer night in Vancouver. Warm enough that most people already sitting on blankets and in chairs hadn’t yet pulled on sweaters or jackets. Walking to the park to watch the Celebration of Light there was a definite buzz in the air. In the crowd we could hear snatches of conversation and over and over the same word- Disney.
The Celebration of Light Fireworks in Vancouver take place on a special fireworks barge anchored in the middle of English Bay. This is a truly spectacular setting that has the fireworks set off over the water with a backdrop of the mountains against a darkening sky. Another advantage of the fireworks location is that there are great vantage points from a number of spots. The downtown beaches are definitely the most popular and many apartment dwellers are lucky enough to have VIP views from their balconies. Other good spots although not front and center include Second Beach in Stanley Park, Kitsilano Beach and Vanier Park, and although farther back Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks. Many residents have their own special spots of high ground where they can get a good view, farther back over the treetops without the crowds.
Crowds definitely felt bigger than usual as we walked the seawall and found a spot of our blanket. Vancouver Police have since supported this feeling by saying that it was a record attendance. They projected 500, 000 people in the downtown core as opposed to regular attendance which tops out at about 300, 000 downtown. Our vantage point from Vanier Park was not nearly as crowded but was certainly busy.
We quickly found seats as the fireworks barge sent up test shots as a warning. Families and groups of people surrounded us, some in camp chairs and other sprawled on the grass on a variety of blankets and mats.
Many people take their fireworks viewing very seriously and will set up camp in their desired spots hours in advance. we prefer to have a decent spot with much less wait time and arrived less than an hour before the show. By the time we settled into our spot and distributed snacks to the kids we didn’t have long to wait before the 10pm start time.
We were prepared with a small portable radio so that we could tune into the musical broadcast. As the fireworks don’t take place in park there are no big sets of speakers to project the sound. You need to bring your own or rely upon the kindness and preparedness of strangers.
My expectations were certainly high, as we love watching the fireworks when we are at Disneyland. Showcasing music from their iconic move franchises, the theme for the show was a “Disney Music Extravaganza” and kicked off with Under the Sea. Also in the line up were Circle of Life and the William Tell Overture “the Lone Ranger Theme”. The crowd pleasers for the night were unsurprisingly Let it Go and the Star Wars medley. There were several ooh and aaaw moments from the crowd, the kind we have come to expect from Disney and overall we were pretty impressed.
The show was lacking the “extras” of an in-park show such as the spotlights and projections. The event is a part of a competition so the Disney Pyrotechnics team was required to follow the rules set out for participants, including a maximum dollar amount that they can spend on the fireworks. This combined to make a much less elaborate show than you will find at Disneyland.
The crowds that had turned out for the show were most evident in the surge of people all attempting to leave at the same time. Even though we were not in the main downtown area, the crows were very reminiscent of the press of people trying to leave Main Street USA directly after the nightly Disneyland fireworks. We certainly hope that we will see Disney present at the Celebration of Light for the USA again.
Photos by Kim Stuart and Jennifer Stuart
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