AS early as 8 p.m. tonight, the countdown begins for a lot of people and the anticipation builds up as the night goes deeper. When the clock strikes 11:30 p.m., the skies start to brighten as firecrackers start to explode in a glorious splendor from home and buildings all over the island.
Nothing beats those few minutes of magic and excitement in hearing those loud whistling sounds as firecrackers shoot up into the air and explode into a thousand explosions, booms and fizzes amid bright lights, displaying spectacular shapes and colors that you would want them to stay up there forever.
For the past two New Year’s evenings I’ve watched the splendid firework displays from the parking lot of Hard Rock Café in Garapan, but I learned that one of the best places to watch the skies lit up in wondrous colors is at the Navy Hill.
Fireworks are popularly associated with Independence Day celebrations, but its original use was during New Year’s celebrations. Fireworks are said to originate in China over 2,000 years ago. One legend has it that a Chinese cook accidentally spilled saltpeter, an ingredient used in gunpowder, into a cooking fire which produced an interesting flame.
Exploding firecrackers were believed to be produced during the Song dynasty by a Chinese monk who placed gunpowder inside bamboo shoots and exploded them on New Year’s eve to scare away the evil spirits. By the15th century, fireworks have become a traditional part of celebrations.
Across the world, many countries spend millions of dollars in lavish firework displays.
In the CNMI, the thinner wallets and meager household budgets brought by the economic downturn is not a hindrance for the people to welcome the New Year with fireworks. Thankfully, firecrackers come in different sizes and shapes and price range, making it affordable for everybody. There are available firecrackers for as low as a dollar and as expensive as hundreds of dollars, but no matter what kind of firecrackers you can afford, it is the spirit of the celebration that counts.
New Year’s Eve just would not be complete without fireworks. If you don’t want to light fireworks, you can go out before the clock strikes midnight tonight and bask in the glorious experience of watching multi-color fountains of light, flashing stars, cracking strobes and willow-bursts light up the dark skies.
Warning: A reminder to state the obvious, fireworks can be very dangerous if not handled correctly. Use fireworks with proper caution. Kids should have adult supervision when lighting fireworks because you would not want to spend the first day of the New Year swathed in bandages, minus a finger or two and writhing in pain at the hospital.
Have a blazingly spectacular firework-filled New Year to one and all!