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Feb 28, 2010

China Fireworks Sales - A Market Top?

Here is an interesting article about the China Domestic Fireworks Market. My personal observation was the same as this article. Last year, I observed enthusiast sales of all fireworks, including the largest, most expensive fireworks over $100 USD per piece. The tents were too crowed to even enter.

This year, I observed only a few shoppers through the season and the largest items sat unsold. As I looked at the product being shot across the city, I could see that the product quality had gone down considerably from last year. Where last year I saw high quality display pieces being shot all around the city, this year I observed a trend toward a much simpler (and cheaper)salute style cake with boring red and green peony breaks.

As a sat with one of the larger factory owners for lunch yesterday I asked if he heard any updates on the retail sales across the country. He confidently assured me that sales were fantastic. I told him that I am not so sure as that was different from what I had observed. From his perspective, he has just finished the largest domestic manufacturing season on record. The question is, will his customer have large stocks of inventory left over from a slow retail season and will the domestic orders be reduced next season?

The unknown variable is how have sales been across the entire country. Although sales appear to have topped out in the major cities, China's population across thousands of mid to small size cities and the market may continue to grow in these cities for many years as their economic conditions improve.

A possible explanation for why sales have cooled in the largest cities is because fireworks were banned for over 10 years. When the government allowed sales again three years ago, everyone rushed out to relive old childhood memories of shooting fireworks. In casual conversations, I would say as many as 80% of all people purchased at least some fireworks last season. However, the novelty quickly wore off as Fireworks are in fact loud, dangerous and expensive, especially the types available in China. This year, I think people just preferred to look out their windows and enjoy the fireworks from the warmth of their homes, or light a few crackers and fountains with their children or grandchildren.

By Tu Lei

For the vendors in the more than 2,000 red fireworks sales booths throughout Beijing, the annual 15-day Chinese New Year period was more of a bust than a boom.

This year, Beijing authorized 2,418 fireworks booths, up about 10 percent over last year. But like a dud that fizzles briefly before it goes out or just weakly pops, profits were low and discounts were high, according to vendors and distributors.

Manufacturers also reported a slump in export profits for the world's largest manufacturer of fireworks.

High discounts, low sales

"We do not earn money this year," said a saleswoman surnamed Wang at a booth along the North Fourth Ring Road.

Nearly all the explosives, from strings of small ladyfingers and smoke bombs to elaborate aerial display shells, were discounted, some as high as 50 percent, said Wang. She said her most expensive eardrum busters cost about 1,000 yuan ($146.48), but the best sellers were for children and cost only a few dozen yuan.

Two kilometers away, another saleswoman named Tian Shuying echoed Wang's words.

"The Spring Festival Eve was our busiest night," Tian said. "We sold thousands of yuan worth of fireworks that night, but after that business dropped and hasn't been good enough. Today (Tuesday) we've only sold 100 yuan ($14.65) of fireworks.

"The best sellers are all under 100 yuan. There have been too many bargains this year, but if we don't have discounts we don't have any sales," she added.

Tian, who works as a grocer when not selling fireworks, is from Qinghuangdao, Hebei Province, 300 kilometers away from Beijing. She opened the 24-hour booth February 10, three days ahead of Chinese New Year's Eve.

A fireworks distributor who declined to give his name told the Workers' Daily that last year he invested 520,000 yuan ($76,167.04) in four booths and earned 540,000 yuan ($79,096.54). But this year his profit will be less than 200,000 yuan ($29,295.02).

Pan Di, general manger of Beijing Panda Fireworks, a leading fireworks manufacturer who participated in the opening ceremony's fireworks of the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, said that the sales this year were almost the same as last year, and consumers were careful about making their purchases.

"In past years, the sales of large fireworks weren't bad, but now inexpensive small ones are often sold out. Some consumers would rather shop around to make a final decision," said Pan, who added the average amount spent is about 300 yuan ($43.94).

Although the average price of fireworks in Beijing is less than 5 percent higher than last year, some residents said they were reluctant to spend even that much.

Penny pinching buyers

In a random poll of 20 people who bought fireworks in a community near the Fourth Ring Road, 12 said they spent less than 100 yuan on fireworks this year and only two said they spent more than 1,000 yuan.

Xu Quan, a technician for a US company said he only bought the fireworks for his young son. "Seeing other people blow off fireworks is also ok for me," said Xu.

Moreover, to save money, some residents cut costs by buying them even cheaper outside of Beijing.

Han Bing, an employee at Sojitz (China), and a fireworks fanatic, said he typically spent 2,000 yuan ($292.95) on fireworks, but beginning last year he bought them in Langfang or other areas of Hebei Province because the prices are half or even two thirds cheaper than in Beijing.

"I only need to spend around 800 yuan ($117.18) for what I could buy for 2,000 yuan ($ 146.46) or even more in Beijing," said Han.

Skimpy export profits

There were nearly 7,000 producers certified to manufacture fireworks by the end of 2008, said Jin Wencun, vice-director of China Grocery Products for Daily Use Marketing Society, in October last year.

With a market worth about 20 billion yuan ($2.93 billion), China is the only major fireworks exporter in the world because 99 percent of the world's fireworks are made here.

"Nearly one-fourth of our fireworks are exported overseas," said Zhao Weiping, Board Chairman of listed Beijing Panda Fireworks, and vice director of National Fireworks & Firecrackers Standardization Technology Committee.

Zhong Ziqi, general manager of Hunan-based Liuyang Dancing Fireworks Group, said half of the sales are exported to five continents, with the US the biggest customer that accounts for 40 percent of sales, followed by Japan, Germany, and Canada.

"The display shells are the most popular, accounting for 60 percent of the exports," said Zhong, adding last year that sales income was less than 200 million yuan ($29.30 million).

Wanzai, a fireworks manufacturing center in Jiangxi Province, witnessed a sales income of more than 3.2 billion yuan ($46.87 million) last year and the explosives were exported to more than 50 countries and regions.

However, experts said the largely unregulated fireworks export market makes for thin profits.

Manufacturers often produce small amounts, and the average annual output value is only 3.2 million yuan ($468,720.25), leading to skimpy profits and fierce competition, Zou Jianjun, analyst from Fortune Securities, was quoted by China Business News February 6.

Zhao at the fireworks standardization technology committee said at the end of 1980s, the fireworks could be sold for as much as $40 per box, but this year, the equivalent box is sold for $15. "Those big producers nearly earn nothing," said Zhao. In the first half of 2009, Panda saw an export drop of 32.81 percent.

"It is urgent to set up an association to regulate the fireworks export market," said Zhao.

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Feb 9, 2010

The annual fireworks display at Meadowdale Park

Display location:Meadowdale Park
State: Illinois
Date:June 26
Display Company: Mad Bomber Productions, Andy James

Details: CARPENTERSVILLE -- There still will be bang, even for less buck, at the Dundee Township Park District's annual pre-Fourth of July fireworks.

The Carpentersville Village Board recently gave unanimous approval to a request from the park district to have its annual fireworks display on Saturday, June 26, at Meadowdale Park. The village board had voted in December not to give its usual $7,500 donation toward those fireworks -- the first cut from its 2010-11 budget.

Fireworks have been the first to go as many area communities continue to cut their budgets in the struggling economy. Elgin and Chicago both have announced they will not sponsor Fourth of July displays in 2010.

But Deputy Director Jim Miller said Thursday the park district still plans to hold its fireworks display, with or without a financial donation from Carpentersville.

"We'll still do a show, and the fireworks company says it will be a good one," Miller said.

The park district works with Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions of Elgin to put on the display.

The deputy director said he still hopes the fireworks show will last as long as usual, but he said there may be fewer fireworks and longer breaks between the colorful explosions.

Carpentersville co-sponsored the event last year and was the only village in the township that helped fund the annual event. It also contributed support from its police and fire departments.

Village President Ed Ritter said the village still plans to support the event with on-duty police officers and firefighters without "any extra cost to the village."

Miller said, "We couldn't do it without their being there to do that."

Carpentersville's 2010-11 budget has not been set yet. But the village is discussing ways to cut nearly $2 million from that money plan and boost its decreasing revenue.

When some of those proposed cuts include laying off police and fire department employees, plus allowing the village's infrastructure to decay, cutting fireworks was a relatively easy decision, Ritter said.

"We had an idea fireworks would go on even if we couldn't donate," he said. "If we had known we would be the canceling factor, we might have reached a different decision."

1st Galaxy Helps People Look at Nottingham a Fireworks Show

Display location:Nottingham
Country:United Kingdom
Show contact:0845 3889584
Display company: 1st Galaxy Fireworks

Details: Nottingham, United Kingdom, February 07, 2010 --( A spectacular firework and laser display has been specially designed to light up the city of Nottingham for one night only, by Nottinghamshire-based 1st Galaxy Fireworks. This impressive light show will be a focal point of the Light Night Festival being held in the city, an annual event, helping people look at the city in a whole new light.

1st Galaxy is preparing for Nottingham’s 3rd anual Light Festival, where it will be showcasing an impressive firework, laser and light show throughout the evening at Nottingham Castle.

Lee Smith, Display Manager for the company says; "We are delighted to be providing the fireworks display for this special event. We have a truly vibrant event planned which includes lighting up the castle in various colours, having flame effects, as well as firework displays throughout the evening which will complement the colour illuminating the castle."

He continued: "The castle is such a symbolic landmark of Nottingham and a focal point for the celebrations – particularly as it can be seen from miles around. We are confident it will be a fantastic sight!"

Nottingham Light Night is an annual event organised by Nottingham City Council, in partnership with Nottingham Business Improvement District. It aims to allow visitors and Nottingham families to discover a different, and beautiful, perspective on the city. Trails of illuminations and light installations will guide people around the city to visit attractions not normally seen at night, for example Nottingham Castle and St. Mary’s Church.

Lee will be leading an eight-strong team on the night to fire the show, which includes 237 cues of fireworks, each with more than 70 shots; that equates to more than 1000 fireworks and stars. The fireworks displays will begin at 7pm, with firework displays taking place every hour on the hour, culminating with the finale at 10pm. In addition, four lasers will be positioned on top of the Castle and beaming projections onto the Castle; use of the latest architectural LED lights from Italy means that the castle can be lit in a huge variation of colours. The laser lights will be coloured to co-ordinate with the fireworks.

About us:
1st Galaxy Fireworks is one of the UK’s leading fireworks specialists, with expertise in providing displays for all sorts of events, including wedding fireworks, corporate events, parties and celebrations. It also supplies high quality display fireworks through its retail shops and mail order. It is also possible to buy fireworks online ensuring the very best firework collection is available for private celebrations nationwide

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Feb 7, 2010

Fireworks Display on Perth International Arts Festival

Display location:Supreme Court Gardens

Details: Flying above people's heads, being suspended from spinning wheels and spraying a 44-gallon drum of water was all in a night's work for Perth International Arts Festival artists.

PIAF's opening night had audiences on their toes, quite literally, when large metal contraptions parted the huge crowd like the Red Sea.

And if this is just the start, then Perth is in for an unbelievable three-and-a-half weeks.

The team from La Fura Dels Baus performed their stunning show against the backdrop of the city skyline at Supreme Court Gardens on Friday night.

Early in the show, a giant crane dropped a winged man atop a large piece of machinery that worked its way around like two horses and a chariot. A large spinning wheel then hovered over the crowd, with seven performers inside letting loose, running around like mice in a wheel.

At another point a dancing woman was suspended over the stage trapped inside a large bubble, which filled with foam as she danced. Just as it looked like she would drown inside, the foam was released and sprayed over the stage while a tribal-style singing and dancing performance went on underneath.

The highlight was the finale, when figures in white jumpsuits were hoisted up by the crane. They created a checker-board style formation of seven people across and eight people down, each moving in sync. As unexpected fireworks exploded, the hooded acrobats stood still and held hands to make a perfect cross-thatched board, as a light show danced over their bodies.

Stunned gatherers left the gardens spellbound by the show created especially for the festival.

Part of the crowd then moved over to the Esplanade to the Becks Music Box for the official after party and opening night of the venue.

The VIPs entered a space that was filled with a fashionable vibe and ambience. The seemingly modest area expanded as guests walked through to the auditorium to be welcomed by lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi, Festival artistic director Shelagh Magadza and general manager Julian Donaldson.

Mrs Scaffidi looked ravishing in black and she officially opened the festival.

Magadza then welcomed special guest Kamy Thompson, who entertained the crowd for the remainder of the night. Thompson, a solo artist from London, played a relaxed, acoustic set and playfully interacted with the crowd.

Becks Music Box is undoubtedly one of the best venues Perth has to offer. With many shows already sold out, it would be a real shame to miss out on experiencing one of its festival shows.

Spotted at the after party were many of the artists who will be performing in the Festival for the next three-and-a-half weeks, including the team from La Fura Dels Baus who mingled with the delighted crowd after the night's spectacular opening celebration

HCM City to greet Lunar New Year with seven fireworks shows

Display location: Ho Chi Minh
City: Ho Chi Minh
Country:Viet Nam
Date: Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Details: VietNamNet Bridge – Fireworks will be set off at seven locations around the city and broadcast live on Ho Chi Minh Television at midnight on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

The locations selected for the 15 minute fireworks displays are: Thu Thiem Bridge in District 2; Go Vap District Cultural Park; Binh Phu Park in District 6; North Western Tan Binh Industrial Zone in Binh Tan District; National Historical- Cultural Park in District 9; Ben Duoc Revolutionary Martyr Memorial Monument in Cu Chi District; and the football stadium in Can Gio District.

Other New Year events include a concert on Le Duan Street which will also be broadcast live on Ho Chi Minh Television’s HTV9 channel on the evening of the last day of the lunar year.

Many art programs by HCMC Movie and Performance Organization Center will take place at: the National Historical- Cultural Park in District 9; Ben Duoc Revolutionary Martyr Memorial Monument in Cu Chi District; Gia Dinh Park 2 in Go Vap District; Cultural Center in District 12; Thoi Tam Thon Ward in Hoc Mon District; Thai My Ward in Cu Chi District; and Can Thanh town in Can Gio District.

The programs will run from lunar December 30 to the third day of the Lunar New Year (February 14-17).

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Feb 6, 2010

Winterlude to begin tonight with fireworks display

Display location:Major's Hill Park
Date:Feb.5th. 8:50 p.m.

Details: The 32nd annual Winterlude Festival kicks off with a bang tonight with a variety performances, activities and a musical fireworks extravaganza.

The American Express Winterlude Opening will take place at the Canadian Museum of Civilization with performances by The National Parcs, DJ Misstress Barbara, and Saltarello.

The celebration will also feature Glacialis, a performance by Jesse Stewart who will play instruments built out of ice, Nite-Lite, a large scale installation by artist Alexandra (Alita) González-Vucina based on the popular toy Lite-Brite, and H2Orchestra, a demonstration and performance of the world's first and only water-based musical instrument, the hydraulophone.

Activities will also take place at Major's Hill Park, including extreme sports demonstrations by the Flying Canucks and various arts and crafts.

The musical fireworks show can be seen at 8:50 p.m. from Major's Hill Park, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Sun Life Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park.

There have been several changes to the lineup for this year's Winterlude celebration, including the cancellation of the Snowbowl concert series in order to work towards a more carbon-neutral festival by 2012.

Winterlude opening night festivities will take place tonight from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Major's Hill Park.

The Winterlude Festival will run from February 5 to 21.

Boy Scouts mark 100th: Celebration features fireworks show, music, cake and sparklers

Display location:Cohen Stadium
Date: 7 p.m. Monday.
Show contact:772-2292

EL PASO -- More than 8,400 local Boy Scouts are ready to party. And they've got a lot to celebrate.

The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. That calls for some fireworks.

El Paso's Yucca Council on Monday will have a family fun event, including a 20-minute fireworks show, at Cohen Stadium.

"We choose to celebrate the 100 years of Scouting the 'American way,' " said John Thilman, Yucca Council executive board vice president and 37-year Boy Scouts of America member. "That includes birthday cake, candles, and -- like any New Year's Eve program -- fireworks, signifying a new century of continuing the Scouting values that the Scouting program was founded on back in 1910."

The Yucca Council also will host its annual Scouting for Food Program food drive, today through Feb. 14. The group's goal this year is to raise at least 75,000 pounds of food for at least 32 area food banks, Thilman said. Last year, local Boy Scouts raised more than 40,000 pounds of food during the annual drive and distributed it throughout the council's territory, which includes El Paso (and outlying areas as far east as Van Horn), Silver City, Deming, Las Cruces, Alamogordo and White Sands.

Lowell Stokes, a former Scout and current den leader, said Scouting has become a family affair. His wife, Christina Stokes, is a Cub Scout pack trainer and his son, Andrew, is a Cub Scout.

"I think (being involved in Scouts has) made all of us get out together and do activities that we probably wouldn't have done otherwise," Lowell Stokes said. "We were so excited this year. Normally we wouldn't go, but we decided to make the (National Scout) Jamboree our family vacation."
Though not yet a full-fledged Boy Scout, Andrew Stokes, 10, already loves the organization.

"It feels good to know that people have been enjoying this for over a few decades and that it also helps a lot of people who don't have very much and the troops who are fighting for our country," Andrew said.

Besides the fun and adventure of Scouting, Lowell Stokes said being involved has also given him a positive outlook.

"It has made me more of an optimist," he said. "I've met so many people that are just really nice people. You read the paper from day to day and get discouraged with society. And then you get in and you meet so many nice people; it's refreshing."

After nine years of volunteering within the group, Tami Gandt, a mother with three Scouts ages 12 to 18, said she also has enjoyed the camaraderie.

"I have met a lot of people that I never would have met before, and there are a lot of nice, good people," Gandt said. "I've also been able to expand my own leadership capabilities as I've done different volunteer jobs."

And the Scouts aren't just for boys anymore. The Scouts' Venturing program is for young adult boys and girls and expands the group's mission on leadership, adventure and hobbies as youth mature.

Gandt's daughter, Malia Gandt, a 16-year-old Venturing Scout and junior at Coronado High School, said the organization offers more than some might realize.

"I think it's really cool, because I'm, in a way, carrying on a legacy," Malia said. "I like being a part of this organization É. The Boy Scouts represent more than what people think and they shouldn't stereotype them. It's an important way for the community to grow and expand to become a community of one."

Jacqueline Armendariz may be reached at; 546-6164.

Make plans

What: Boy Scouts of America 100-year anniversary celebration.

When: Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks start at 7 p.m. Monday.

Where: Cohen Stadium.

How much: Free.

Information: 772-2292 or

Scouting programs

Cub Scouts: This is the first level of the Scouts, for boys in first through fifth grades.

Boy Scouts: This is for boys who have earned an Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old or have completed the fifth grade, but not yet 18 years old. The organization sets out to achieve the program's objectives of developing character, citizenship and personal fitness.

Venture: This is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age. Venturing's purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults.
Source: Boy Scouts of America,

By the numbers

One hundred years of service.

23 million members worldwide; 8,400 in El Paso.

1.2 million national volunteers.

More than 35 million service hours worldwide in 2008.

Fireworks Display in February at Nationals Park

Display location:Nationals Park
Date:Feb.3. Wednesday evening

Details: It was a dazzling display of fireworks against the night sky. Residents in Southeast looked out of their windows Wednesday evening to see what all the booming was about.

Much to their delight, right there in the middle of the winter, was a spectacular display of color lighting up D.C. For some it was quite unexpected and fun -- a great diversion from all those snow clean-up chores.

Our hometown team the Washington Nationals wanted to get it right. It was a fireworks test to determine the best spot to set off fireworks for next season's "Friday Night Fireworks" series.

You may remember last summer when fireworks were temporarily suspended at Nationals Park. Some ashes fell on fans. No one was hurt. But for Wednesday night's test, police and firefighters were on hand to monitor for safety.

Fireworks display on Valencia's biggest festival, Las Fallas

Display location:
Date:March 17

Details: Valencia's biggest festival, Las Fallas, offers a riotous week of fires, explosions and parades.

There's an expectant crackle, then the loudspeaker roars into life. "Senor pyrotecnic, pot comencar la "mascleta" (Mr. Pyrotechnic, you may commence the Mascleta!), says the macho Spanish male right into my ear.

Next thing I know, the sky is ablaze with thousands of fireworks head their way towards the heavens. Valencians, their heads wrapped in blue and white scarves, cheer so loudly that the grounds of Plaza de l'Ajuntament, home to Valencia's City Hall, every time a new pyrotechnic is fire up.

"You need strong pair of ears to enjoy a Spanish fun, don't you?" I say to fellow travel writer Kanchana, as we watching the young Spaniards braving the thunderous sounds to get as close as they can to the front line.

It's March 17, 2009 as we're in Valencia to celebrate Las Fallas, the coastal city's "Festival of Fire".

Las Fallas actually marks the end of long, gloomy winter in Europe. Every year, from March 15 to 19, the Valencians stacks hundreds of huge puppets, and place them in the middle of intersections in and around town.

The puppets stay there for the five days of celebration and parties, and then on the last night every piece will be burnt to ashes

"It's rather like a Pagan purification ceremony, as we move from winter into a warmer day," offers Eva Crespo, our guide. "Except we do it for fun."

For five days, the whole town goes crazy. Brass bands roam the city to wake Valencians from winter. Kids, clutching bags full of "Churros" (chocolate dough), tease passersby with firecrackers. Here and there, you catch a whiff of gun power mingled with white smoke from the pans of paella.

And, for five nights, the street musicians occupy the medieval square of Valencia, and entertain the night with different beats, varying from African drum to hiphop.

The highlight is the burning night. That takes place on March 19, when the 30metre giants at City Hall are engulfed. It begins with sixminute barrage of blasts and the thunder soon becomes addictive. You hope the next bang will be even louder, vibrating deeper.

It takes less than 10 minutes to burn it to the ground. The crowd disperses, leaving the embers behind, to join vibrant street parties elsewhere.

Try it if you happen to be in Europe next month.

Fireworks display in Charleston

Display location:Power Park
State:West Virginia
Date:January 30

Details: CHARLESTON -- The Special Olympics annual Polar Plunge made quite a splash in Appalachian Power Park Saturday night. It was a snowy, wet and cold day all around but these fearless polar aquanauts took it to the extreme by splashing, swimming, sloshing, and wading through an above ground pool filled with thousands of gallons of freezing cold water.
Ninety-Five “plungers” took the plunge and raised $47,750, $30,000 of that came from Massey Energy, its employees and vendors. Massey employee Mark Clemons was shocked when they began totaling the donations, “I was floored I thought we would raise $6,000 or $7,000, enough to break the record but when we began adding it up I was stunned.”

That $30,000 not only set a record for the fundraising event, it also seemed to ward off the cold, “That water was cold but when I think about what we raised it really warms you up and gives you a good feeling. I was never cold the whole time just knowing what we raised for them.” Said Clemons after getting out of the pool and into some warm and dry clothes.

The Kanawha county Sheriff’s department was the top earning team.

Massey donated the fireworks display, also a first for the plunge.

New Crystal Cruise Culminates in Venetian Fireworks Show

Display location:San Marco Basin
Date:on the third Saturday in July

Details: LOS ANGELES, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- This July, guests aboard Crystal Cruises' award-winning Crystal Serenity will be treated to one of Italy's most popular Venetian traditions. The ultra-luxury line is introducing a new cruise for 2010 that sails into Venice just in time for the annual Redentore Festival, a spectacle of brightly colored boats, gondola races, costumes and traditional feasts culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. The 12-day Mediterranean/Adriatic voyage, departing from Athens on July 7, marks Crystal Cruises' first ever itinerary with two shipboard overnights in Venice.

Dating back to the 16th century, the Redentore Festival commemorates the church of the same name, built on the island of Giudecca to mark the end of a plague that had stricken the city. Each year on the third Saturday in July, Venetians gather in San Marco Basin to celebrate, where they remain until late-night fireworks are set off in the bay of San Marco.

On board, guests can celebrate with an al fresco champagne reception, local entertainment, Venetian dinner and view of the fireworks from the spacious open deck.

"Venice is one of the most magical cities in the world; to be there during this festival adds yet another layer to the authentic experience that our guests seek and expect with a Crystal vacation," says Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president, hotel operations. "We're thrilled to be a part of the celebration and to offer our guests more time to immerse themselves in the culture."

In addition to dozens of shoreside activities offered in the seven ports included in the itinerary, guests can maximize their stay in Venice with extravagant experiences like exclusive cooking lessons and lunch with Countess Lelia Passi or a bird's eye view of Padua from a hot air balloon.

The voyage visits Athens, Santorini, Crete and Patmos, Greece; Kusadasi, Turkey; Kotor, Montenegro; Split, Croatia; and Venice, Italy. Two-for one cruise fares start at $6,465 per person, double occupancy. Complimentary air transportation from more than 20 North American gateways, including Business Class air for Penthouse guests, plus a $1,000 per person 'All Inclusive – As You Wish' shipboard credit are included.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit

CONTACT: Mimi Weisband or Julie Dibble (310) 203-4305,

Fireworks display on annual Spring Lake Heritage Festival

Display location:Mill Point Park
Date:10 p.m. Saturday, June 19

Details: SPRING LAKE — Where the Village of Spring Lake has had to cut back, other organizations have stepped forward to fund the fireworks that have become a highlight of the annual Spring Lake Heritage Festival.

In November 2009, village officials announced they would not be donating $900 to the event as part of an attempt to offset more than $21,000 in state revenue sharing cuts.

It was also unknown at the time if Huntington Bank would still be able to fund the bulk of the costs, as it had in the past.

But at Monday night's Village Council meeting, Huntington Bank Spring Lake branch Manager Kathleen Alward said the bank would be donating $6,000 towards the 2010 display.

Spring Lake Rotary Club member Doug Heins also announced the organization would donate $1,000 to make up for the village's part of the funding, said Village Manager Ryan Cotton.

Village President Bill Filber accepted the donations on behalf of council, Cotton said.

Council will continue to work with Wolverine Fireworks, as in the past, if they are still competitive with other fireworks businesses, Cotton said.

This year's Heritage Festival will be held June 15-20. The fireworks show is scheduled for 10 p.m. Saturday, June 19, from a barge off Mill Point Park.

Fireworks display on Blue Hills Observatory at 125

Display location:Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory
Date:Saturday evening,Feb.6th

Details: Canton — Fireworks lit the night sky Saturday as Blue Hill Observatory, the country's oldest weather and climate station, celebrated its 125th anniversary.

The castle-like structure atop Great Blue Hill has had a number of meteorological firsts, including soundings of the atmosphere with kites in the 1890s and the development of the radiosonde to send back upper-air weather data via balloon soundings from around the world, said Dr. William Minsinger, the observatory’s president and board chairman.

He said the first soundings of the atmosphere with kites in the 1890s and the development of the radiosonde to send back upper-air weather data via balloon soundings from around the world are among the observatory’s firsts. The radiosonde gathers information that is fed into computers aiding meteorologists with weather forecasts.

“Blue Hill Observatory continues to look forward to another 125 years of climate study – perhaps after 250 years of data we will more clearly understand all aspects of climate change,” Minsinger said. “We have put a very public face on the study of weather and climate.”

The fireworks display was the climax to a Saturday night reception. Open houses and tours were held through Monday.

The festivities began at Fuller Village on Brush Hill Road with a lunch featuring guest speakers Louis Uccellini and Paul Kocin, authors of the book ‘‘Northeast Snowstorms.’’ An evening reception and fireworks followed.

The summit of Great Blue Hill can be reached by hiking or biking from the Trailside Museum and Blue Hill Ski Area parking lots on Route 138.

Fireworks display to celebrate the Istanbul as the 2010 European Capital of Culture

Display location:Istanbul
Date:Jan. 9 and 10

Details: It was a night of music, fireworks, and ethnic controversy. The weekend of Jan. 9 and 10 brought a glitzy opening ceremony to mark Istanbul as the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

Turkey has seized on a little-known institution to showcase its cultural gems, such as the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, and beef up its candidacy for the European Union while highlighting its emergence as a regional power. At a time when local newspapers talk of a “neo-Ottomanist” foreign diplomacy, some are calling the coming year of cultural events Turkey’s “Beijing moment.”

In a modern conference hall built next to the Halic Strait separating the two shores of Ottoman Istanbul, Turkish singers, dancers, poets, dervishes, a choir, and a full orchestra serenaded 5,000 politicians, VIPs, and journalists in a spectacle intended to underline the city’s multicultural heritage. At the show’s conclusion, guests streamed out into the rain to the strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” to take in a dazzling 15-minute fireworks display launched from the seven hills on which the city is built.

But Turkey’s uneasy coexistence with its minorities has drawn criticism of Istanbul’s city government from several sources: Gypsy populations are upset at being forced to leave a prime piece of real estate abutting the walls of Byzantium that they have inhabited for a millennium to make room for a residential development. Disenfranchised Kurds feel the city’s municipalities are not addressing their needs.

The opening ceremony represented Istanbul’s Gypsy population through a dance number titled “East Side Story,” featuring rival Gypsy gangs staging a choreographed brawl.

“We have double standards,” said Ali Murat Yel, a professor of sociology at Istanbul’s Fatih University. “On the one hand we say we’re tolerant of minorities and [are] multicultural, but as the Manisa events [in which a squabble over smoking spiraled into 1,000 locals attacking a Roma community] show, this is not the case. We have to know how to tolerate others who are different.”

Summer fireworks display

Display location:Detroit River
Date:Monday, June 21, starting at 10:06 p.m.
Display company:Zambelli Fireworks Internationale

Details: FIREWORKS DATE SET: The annual summer fireworks display over the Detroit River is scheduled for Monday, June 21, starting at 10:06 p.m., the Parade Co. and Target said Thursday. The fireworks, choreographed by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, include more than 10,000 pyrotechnic effects lighting up the night sky.