Victoria Day Fireworks

Update Victoria Day, 2004: I've noticed that a surprising number of people have come to this website looking for information on Victoria Day fireworks, and instead have found this page on what I did on Victoria Day 2003. I'm sorry that I've contributed to your fruitless search. However, here are some links that might help you:

Enjoy your Victoria Day!


It feels good sleeping in on a three-day weekend. Erin and I intend to enjoy this weekend, even if Erin feels no connection to Queen Victoria and makes a few snarky republican remarks about it. I say, I don't care if it's called Victoria Day, or Thank the Almighty, It's Finally Spring! Day, it's a holiday, it's sunny out, and life is good.

Victoria Day is also Canada's first excuse of the year to launch fireworks. I remember back in Toronto when my parents and I would trawl the streets of Chinatown, purchasing boxes containing an assortment of burning schoolhouses, snakes and flywheels -- probably patently illegal these days, or at least shady, but we didn't care. My parents always kept a bucket of water handy for our own personal fireworks display that night after the sun went down. The sparklers were my favourite; they did shine, and that was the closest anyone could get to a firework in one's life -- or would want to.

I have never been one for the professional fireworks displays -- mostly because whenever we went, we went with thousands of people, to displays at Ontario Place on the shores of Lake Ontario. It was such a chore to fight the crowds and find a good spot. We almost always ended up well away from the action, getting an obscured view, and having to sit uncomfortably on grass. Then we had to go home, among the rush of people who had been gathering gradually, but now wanted to leave en masse.

I didn't really get an appreciation of a good fireworks display until I visited my father-in-law and his wife in Omaha in the summer of 1999. After attending my sister-in-law's wedding, Wendell and Judy took us back to Lincoln. On the way, we stopped in Omaha and saw a baseball game between the Pacific Coast League's Omaha Golden Spikes and the Albaquerque Dukes. Rosenblatt stadium was sold out (25,000) and the game was rather lackluster (the Spikes lost 10-6), but people weren't there for the game. It was July 4, and at the end of the game, everybody stayed for what was the biggest fireworks display between Chicago and Denver.

The technology of fireworks has dramatically improved over the past two decades, and the technicians know how to put on a spectacular show -- especially for those who sit in a certain area. So, sitting in the stands we got the full effect of the blasts and the music. It was impressive, to say the least.

The Americans like their fireworks better than Canadians, I think. Though great shows are still put on at Ontario Place, and we hear the occasional pops and whistles in the back alleys during Victoria Day, one very visual memory I have of Florida is coming back to my (then future) mother-in-law's apartment on the evening of July 4, 1996 after seeing the movie Independence Day.

Florida is pretty flat, and Greater Miami isn't known for its skyscrapers. We could see a lot of the skyline as a low rise. And at twelve different points along the western horizon I saw rockets rising and bursting in blasts of red, white and blue above the various parks of Fort Lauderdale. Twelve fireworks displays going at once. That's a lot of fireworks.

After a breakfast of bacon and pancakes today, Erin and I hope to head out into the beautiful sunshine and do a little reading. Possibly Stratford or, if we're feeling ambitious, Owen Sound.

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