Extraordinary fireworks show lights up Olympic feast

August 9th, 2008 - 1:23 am ICT by IANS  

By Tan Jingjing
Beijing, Aug 8 (Xinhua) More than 40,000 fireworks shells blazed into the sky from more than 1,800 sites, turning Beijing city into a dreamland of flowers, stars, smiling faces and five rings during the Olympics opening ceremony here Friday - mesmerising the world with its colourful and high-tech fireworks display. About 90,000 spectators in the National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, witnessed the fireworks Friday.

The fireworks exploded around 8 p.m. over the Bird’s Nest. Pink, white, orange and red fireworks shot up into the night sky, unveiling the extravaganza of artistic performance and the athlete march-in.

Featuring “Historical Footprints”, the fireworks started the first scene over Yongdingmen, southernmost of Beijing city’s central axis, creating a 300-meter-long footprint.

Shaping the central axis as a human foot path, fireworks burst into 29 footprints “walking” from southern Beijing through Tian’anmen Square to the Bird’s Nest, symbolizing the 29th Olympic Games embracing the ancient city.

Immediately after the Chinese flag was raised in the latticework of metal girders, Bird’s Nest, yellow firework-dragon sprang up, spanning up to 3.5 km around the edge of the dragon-effect lakes of the Olympic Green.

The climax came when fireworks burst into 2,008 smiling faces in the air, in the accompany of thousands of pictures of smiling faces collected all over the world on the stage of the stadium.

In fact, to achieve the 2,008 fireworks faces was “technically very demanding”, according to Cai Guoqiang, director of visual and special effects of opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics.

It took the whole team two years to perfect the unique originality, he added.

After President Hu Jintao declared opening of the 29th Olympic Games, Olympic rings shaped by fireworks sparkled in the sky.

“They are the most heart-shaking Olympic rings I have ever seen,” said IOC’s Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli.

Cai included Olympic symbols and elements in his fireworks’ designing with an aim to promote Olympic ideals.

When the Olympic flame was lit at the Bird’s Nest shortly after midnight, cutting-edge pyrotechnics exploded in rainbow shapes over the stadium and the section of the Great Wall at Juyongguan Pass simultaneously, pushing the celebration to another climax.

“It’s amazing. It’s been a long wait to see such splendid fireworks show,” said Ben Shepherd, a British engineer of the BMW headquarters in Beijing.

“The combination of the Bird’s Nest and the Great Wall, symbolizes a historical connection between the past and the present,” said Cai.

Friday’s grand fireworks show was not just for people with tickets to the opening ceremony. Tens of thousands of Chinese and foreigners went outdoors to join the celebration of the Olympics, cheering with delight and waving flags and banners.

The Bird’s Nest was turned into a vast sea of joy, spreading the Olympic spirit throughout the entire city and country.

“I’m so moved. I have never laughed so much in my life,” said Ruo Shaopu, a 70-year-old spectator from China’s quake-hit Sichuan province. “The Olympic spirit will give us strength to rebuild.”

To reflect the “Green Olympics” concept, some sophisticated skills were employed for the first time for fireworks display, including compressive air launches, chamber pressure launches and computerized ignition technologies.

Some of the fireworks used less smoking powder to minimize smoke and dust pollution.

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