Monday, October 4, 2021

Fireworks as social celebration

The Brisbane fireworks show begins over the Story Bridge

by Tarah Hodgkinson 

There are many ways a community can celebrate culture and come together, even if briefly, to share a sense of togetherness. Fireworks have the power to do this in a collective moment of joy and fun.

I had the opportunity to enjoy Riverfire this week here in Brisbane. Riverfire is a fireworks show celebrating the conclusion of the Brisbane Festival, a large, three-week art festival held annually in September across the city. 

The fireworks show was fantastic. But what was even more fantastic was the way in which it brought people together.

The Riverfire fireworks display in full effect

There have been many critiques about fireworks over the years. These include concerns about air and noise pollution, animal welfare, possible injury (particularly for men), and even fires. The last one is particularly concerning in Australia that has been suffering severe bushfires for many years.  

In Canada, many have also critiqued the celebration of national holidays like Canada Day, particularly this year, in the wake of the discovery of almost a thousand Indigenous children’s graves. 

An inflatable flower before the conclusion of the Riverfire festival

Many of these criticized celebrations include fireworks. All of these critiques are valid. Indeed, we need to think critically about how fireworks can be used safely and honourably. These considerations not only include where but also when fireworks are appropriate.

But after two years residing in a foreign country, separated from family and friends, and watching the horrors of an international pandemic unfold, I was ready for some fireworks. 

Fireworks are meant to elicit joy and bring us together for a moment of excitement and wonder as thousands of tiny colourful sparks light up the sky. They are an effective way to celebrate culture, collective identity and social cohesion – goals we all share in our communities.