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WOOSH! BANG! AAAAAAAAAH!
June 16, 2009 - Sunny Day
Fireworks are low explosive pyrotechnic devices used mainly for entertainment purposes. They create four primary effects – noise, smoke, light and floating materials such as confetti. Firework displays are common throughout the world and are part of many cultural and religious celebrations.
Scaring evil spirits was the necessity for the invention. In the 12th century these devices were created by the ancient Chinese to scare away evil spirits and were a natural extension of their invention of gunpowder. They were also used in prayer for happiness and prosperity. Pyrotechnicians or firework masters were respected for their knowledge and skill in mounting these beautiful displays of lights. China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.
Here in America the earliest settlers used fireworks and black ash to celebrate events. The first celebration of Independence Day was in 1777, six years before Americans knew if their new nation would survive. In 1779 George Washington’s inauguration also had a fireworks display.
The most common fireworks trait is a paper tube or case filled with the combustible material. Several of these may be combined to make a great variety of shimmering shapes of many colors. The aerial shell is the backbone of today’s fireworks displays.
Gunpowder was the original explosive material used to create the display but compressed air is also being used with the added benefit of a reduction in fumes and greater accuracy in timing.
Ground fireworks also create beautiful displays. These are used not only throughout the world, but right here in downtown Williamsport for the celebration of many events and can be viewed on West Fourth St. between our building and City Hall.
Colors in fireworks are usually generated by pyrotechnic stars which produce light when ignited. These “stars” contain five types of ingredients – fuel, which allows it to burn; an oxidizer, a compound that produces oxygen to allow the combustion of the fuel; color-producing chemicals, self-explanatory; a binder, which holds it together; and a chlorine donor which helps to strengthen the color of the flame.
The largest firework display was set in Madeira, Portugal on December 31st, 2006 and was made up of 66,326 fireworks!
Improper use of fireworks may be dangerous with the risk of burns and wounds not to mention fires after the material lands. This is the reason fireworks are generally legally restricted. Professionals handle the “big boys” and we the public have smaller types that have limited amounts of explosives to reduce the danger.
Regardless of how they go together to produce their affect – Fireworks are one of the most amazingly beautiful displays and should be enjoyed whenever possible!
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