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L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2008
Montréal International Fireworks Competition Report

Canada Aurora July 23rd, 2008

Garden City Display Fireworks - designed by Michael Bohonos Pyrodigital firing; Visual Show Director choreography; ~120 FM-16 modules, ~2000 cues

Aurora Borealis and even Aurora Australis over La Ronde! Montréal, Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - While Montrealers won't be able to admire the aurora borealis in Northern Québec, they will have the opportunity to see it at La Ronde on Wednesday. And not only that, they will be able to see southern counterpart - the aurora australis, which should be thousands of kilometers away - at the same specific time. Indeed, the theme of the show put on by Canadian Garden City Display Fireworks will be that light phenomenon of rare beauty we call the aurorae, during the International Loto-Québec presented by TELUS.

Aurora: Fire in the Sky promises to recreate in its own way the elegance, mystery, color, and movement of the aurorae. One of the intense moments of the show will be the "wall of fire" deployed in the sky, resulting from the successive explosions of highly sophisticated shells controlled in flight by computer.

Michael Bohonos, the show's designer, opted to pair his pyrotechnical effects with music that will give watchers some of the same emotions that he experiences while observing the northern lights in northern Ontario. In other words, the spectacle will produce moments of joy and surprise as well as sadness, concern, and melancholy. And as the aurorae occasionally give the impression that they are dancing before our eyes, the show will make spectators want to move in time with the effects.

Garden City Display Fireworks, founded at about the same time as Montréal's pyromusical competition nearly 25 years ago, is based in Beamsville in the Niagara Peninsula. While this will be the firm's freshman presentation at L’International des Feux Loto-Québec presented by TELUS, it will be the designer's third time. He was a member of the Royal Pyrotechnie contingent in 2003, the year that the Canadian firm won the Golden Jupiter, as well as the Hong Kong/China firm in 2007. His past experience will undoubtedly play an important role.

Humid and unstable weather had been the theme for several days but the rains had held off for most of the setup time, except for heavy downpours overnight. A large system was threatening rain all day but it managed to hold off until just before the start of the display. Fortunately, the wind conditions were favourable and, despite the continous rain, it was light enough that it didn't spoil this debut display by the team from Ontario. Despite the weather, the grandstands were sold out. If anything, the weather conditions added to the ethereal nature of the aurora theme.

Part 1 to the music Fire Dance by David Foster Just before the end of the countdown, shells were heard to launch but nothing was seen. Suddenly a curtain of salutes with a horizontal lines at different altitudes burst forth as soon as the countdown was over. The salutes ripped from left to right at an insane but perfectly timed pace - demonstrating the magic of MagicFire. Ground salutes then fired below, rather too far back on ramp two (apparently due to safety regulations) as opposed to the intended placing on ramp 3 (or, better yet to my mind, ramp 5). A line of bombette candles then opened across ramp 3, bursting to kaleioscopes of white strobes. This theme continued and was augmented by blue magnesium spider shells to the left and right above. Then a front of blue mines and a return to silver magnesium spider shells. This theme continued and was followed by a front of angles mines of dazzling strobes, left and right. Shells of lightning then started to burst above as a sequence of green meteor-headed comets and mines moved along the left of ramp three; followed by the same in red at the right hand side. Shells of star terminated comets added to the lightning shells and then the lightning shells alone brought the segment to a close as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 2 to the music Run Free by Hans Zimmer A front of dramatic fast Z-cakes opened across ramp 3 and caused the audience to gasp and cheer. Above these, shells of glitter comets later augmented by strobing horsetails. Some farfalles fired at a mid level followed by a return to the glitter comet shells above. Sequenced fan bursts of silver comets opened across ramp 3 and were followed by more of the glitter comet shells above. Crossed purple-headed gold glitter comet candles were augmented by the same in shells above. This theme continued and then gold glitter comet nautical shells burst out of the lake to cheers from the audience. Spider shells burst above and then strobing horsetails as the nauticals continued below followed by barrages of blue shells and then more fast Z-cakes and some horsetails above. The blue barrages continued and were followed by a bursts of broad fans of thick comets below as gold spider shells burst above. This theme continued and was followed by large charcoal comet shells ending in strobe tips. Cakes of gold glitter crossettes then fired below as shells of crackling glitter comets fired above together with some more horsetails. A line of fountains then lit up across ramp 5 as the music became more serene with golden horsetails bursting above, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 3 to the music Amistad by John Williams Two waterfalls burst to life on the left and right hand sides of ramp 3. Then another waterfall lit up across the top of ramp 4. After some time strobing horsetails fired above. This theme continued until the waterfalls had burned out. Then candles of bombettes of strobes opened up with shells of strobes above. Dazzling fans of silver meteor comets added to the bright silver strobes and then more horsetails appeared above with silver-tipped comet shells below. More fans of silver meteor comets below were followed by horsetails above and silver tipped comet shells at mid level as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 4 to the music The Ghost and the Darkness by Jerry Goldsmith Left and right firing fronts of purple mines turning to gold serpents were followed by meteor comet front shots left and right in yellow. Mines of serpents then fired upwards, left and right in perfect synchronization to the music. A return to the comet shots and then mines of red stars turning to serpents. These were followed by shells of a ring of gold serpents and shells of whistling serpents and then some double farfalle shells. More shells of whistling serpents with embedded green bombettes. This theme continued and was followed by blue studatas and then the same thing in red, both in sequential and simultaneous breaking styles, forming curtains of colour left and right. Huge double farfalles with blue pistils and red pistils filled the sky, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 5 to the music Rain Maker by Hans Zimmer Flights of glittering whistling girandolas rose into the air, descended and then rose again to cheers from the audience. Then another flight and another, some glittering and some whistling, causing a WOW from me! Barrages of shells of purple falling leaves then opened across the sky. Then the same but in green, really giving an exquisite illusion of the aurora. A transition to red was augmented by cakes of blue stars bursting to bombetter though with rather too much noise for the serenity of the falling leaves shells above. Shells of deep strobes then replaced the falling leaf shells as the cakes continued below. As the music became more lively, the strobes were replaced by brighter pale green strobes. Suddenly really broad fans of silver burst across ramp three as a line of wheels lit up (some unfortunately refusing to rotate, probably because of the rain). The broad fans continued as another flight of the whistling girandolas rose up behind them, the segment coming to a close with two huge pistil shells of charcoal comets turning to silver tips as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 6 to the music Lyro, Roger and Billy by Alexander Desplat Shells of go-getters fired left, right and centre. Cakes of fans of colour stars fired across ramp 3 below as a sequenced fan of comets opened from the centre. Above these, shells of blue stars changing to red and then bright angled mine bursts below. Two fans of sequenced comets then fired as the blue to red shells returned above. This theme continued until the music seamlessly moved to

Part 7 to the music Wall Breached by Harry Gregson Williams A line of flares lit up across ramps three and five and suddenly a line of MagicFire salutes ripped across the sky followed by the same in ground salutes and then more MagicFire salutes above. The ground salutes returned giving the feeling of lightning and thunder as the flares continued to burn. Glitter comets then fired over the lake from ramp 5 at the left followed by a front of glitter mines. The glitter comets continued and then huge nautical shells burst from the lake as the music became dramatic with barrage after barrage intermixed with a front of bright mines. Barrages of crackling crossette comet shells then fired above with a a front of mines below and then cakes of screaming serpents opened up as more crossette shells fired above left and right followed by two huge shells of broccade comets with bright pistils in the centre as the music transitioned to

Part 8 to the music The Scorpion King by John Debney Candles of dripping kamuro comets opened across ramp 3 and were augmented by kamuro shells above. This theme continued and then two fans of bright silver meteor comet candles opened up below. Silver rain bombettes were then added and then augmented by the same in shells above, filling the sky as the music rose in intensity. A move to barrages of purple stars turning to gold broccade comets followed, also filling the sky. Then the same theme but in orange stars turning to gold comets and then the same but green. Converging comet candles then fired below as diadem comet shells fired above. This theme continued until the end of the segment as the music transitioned to

Part 9 to the music All of Them by Hans Zimmer Strobing horsetails formed the opening theme and were augmented by palm strobes forming the next theme. This theme continued and was followed fronts of mines in fleur-de-lys forms as magenta shells burst above. Next cakes of green stars with huge tourbillions spinning with the music which were then augmented by shells of go-getters in red. Above these, shells of silver waving comets added to the movement as these continued huge farfalles above with glittering pistils formed the final theme, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 10 to the music Insomnia by Melanie Lynne Strobes lit up the trees eerily behind ramp 2 as fans of meteor comets fired in front with shells of the same above. Then a front of mines as the strobes and meteor comet fans continued. These were followed by Z-cakes of bombettes as the meteor comet shells continued above followed by go-getters and palm strobes. Huge tourbillon ring shells with massive blue and red pistils then were followed by studatas. The studata barrages continued and were followed by multi-break titanium salute shells with glitter comet shells above. Double fronts of bright mines brought the segment to a close as crackling crossette comet shells immediately fired at the beginning of

Part 11 to the music Hook by John Williams The crackling crossette comet shells continued and were followed by sequenced kamuro comets left and right below and then a huge fan of star mine comets in the centre. A return to the crackling crossette comet shells and a repeat of the comet sequence below, the star mine comets in the centre being particularly dramatic. Volleys of star shells were followed by shells of serpents. These continued and were followed by dramatic shells of bright stars and whistling comets. Sequences of serpent mines followed below with more of the whistling comet and bright star shells above. A return to the serpent shells was followed by volleys of huge purple shells and then silver chrysanthemums and then purple stars again. Dramatic "peacock" cakes then fired across ramp 3 in purple as purple shells burst above as the music moved seamlessly to

Part 12 to the music Peter Pan Flying by James Newton Howard Charcoal comet shells then started to fill the sky and were augmented by gold comet spiders. These were followed by shells of charcoal comets turning to strobes at a lower level. Sequences of charcoal comets then flew across ramp 3 left and right as the music transitioned to

Part 13 to the music Into the Sunset by Harry Gregson Williams Gold fountains lit up on ramp 5. These were followed by brighter fountains on ramp 5 and angled glitter comets, from horizontal across the lake at the left and right to converging in the centre. Gold broccade shells then fired above. As the music built, cakes of blue stars turning to crackling comet bombettes fired below as the broccade shells continued above. The pace increased with large volleys of broccades. Barrages of colour shells then burst at all levels as dramatic cakes of dazzling salutes fired and huge shells burst above followed by a front a dazzling mines and a final double barrage of titanium salutes to cheers from the audience.

This was a hugely enjoyable display despite the sub-optimal weather conditions. The use of colour in the display really helped recreate the feeling of the aurora, especially in the Rain Maker segment where sequences of different coloured falling leaf shells filled the sky with a delicate curtain of colour. The whistling girandolas also added an ethereal feel as many claim they can hear the aurora make whistling noise. The display was very broad in that it covered a lot of width and height due to the firing angles used. Synchronization was good for the most part but off in a couple of places and some longer pauses between some of the segments would have been appreciated. There were some good sequences used but, at times, the music was doing something dramatic but without emphasis from the fireworks and sometimes the reverse was true. This sometimes gave the feeling that the pace of the music was rather too much at the same level which wasn't really true. Some stronger sequencing would have overcome this feeling and given a stronger emotional sense to the display. Good use was made of the lake and the quality of the products used was excellent. All in all, an excellent debut from the Canadian team and I'm sure they will have learned a lot from their experience. The level of the competition is certainly very high this year with Portugal still clearly in the lead but at least three contenders now for the next two spots, including this display from Garden City Display Fireworks.


Thanks to the public relations people of La Ronde for the official press release material, shown in white.