This was my first New Years away from Australia, and it was a great one!
In Holland, and most other European countries from what I hear, fireworks are legal on the night of December 31st. So there is nothing stopping you from buying all these awesome fireworks for you to set off. I am sure Fem’s parents bought more than usual this year to show me how cool fireworks can be. I have to say I was looking forward to it.
The day started off calm enough. Fem was at work, and Fem’s mum spent most of the day in the kitchen cooking oliebollen. These are small spoonfuls of dough that are deep-fried. You eat them usually with icing sugar and taste sorta like donuts.
At about 3pm in the afternoon I called my folks via Skype to wish them a happy new year. They were glad for the call but were tired and wanted to go to bed.
When our evening came, we had plenty of oliebollen and a table full of small nibblies. We certainly did not go hungry at all. We watched TV and just hung out in the lounge room until it was midnight. Yay! Happy new year! I got a call from my folks (9am their time) and then it was time to set of the fireworks.
This was when the night got REALLY interesting.
Generally the fireworks are lit off in the street in front of your house. By the time we got out there, several other people in nearby neighbourhoods had already started their fireworks. Also it was rather cold and there was a surprisingly thick fog in the air. So you look up and were hearing these incredibly loud bangs and pops and booms. The fog was lit up with sudden bursts of red and green and yellow.
“Oh wow.. this is cool!” I thought. We had all our fireworks, but the neighbours on our left and right also had a lot of fireworks as well. And there was a large group of men 50 metres away down the street that seemed to have pooled all their resources and bought a large amount of fireworks including some truly massive ones. So for the relatively small street there was a lot of stuff going on! Even Fem said she had never seen so many fireworks before in her life. Yes! A great introduction for me!
So it was a basic matter of people coming out one by one, and using a lit wick to light the firework and then quickly get back before it was set off. Having four people do this at once you almost constantly had a loud bang going off every few seconds. Plus in the background beyond our street in all directions, you also had lots of other people setting of their stuff. I felt like I was in a warzone, sure the fireworks are not as massive as you see done by the pros in Sydney or Brisbane, but when you are right in the thick of it, and smelling the gunpowder and sulphur and having your vision obscured by all the smoke and fog, it becomes really surreal.
Some of the fireworks have several charges, the first one goes off, and if was not stabilised, the roll tips over, and then shoots the remaining charges sideways into fences and houses and sometimes even people. I was out the front just watching in awe, when there was a sudden sideways streak of something screaming past my ear.
“Oh shit!” I ducked as that firework shot again and it hit our front fence. It shot again and it went into the open door of our house! Fem was standing there and got a hell of a fright but was not physically harmed. Phew..
The skies were lit up with a constant barrage of colours and sounds. I tried to call my folks again to see if they could listen to the sounds as it was incredible. But another firework somewhere got tipped over and we had to duck for cover as screaming sparklies were shot over our heads. I could feel the adrenaline going through me. I heard some bangs down the street to see the group of men lighting these massive fireworks.. the ones that shoot up really high and then just explode. Again one tipped over and it shot into the glass wall of a toy shop and exploded showering the whole area with sparks.
I was beginning to think those people down the street where a little reckless with their stuff and this was confirmed a few minutes later when some other large fireworks either didn’t shoot up or was pointing to the ground. It started exploding right on the ground and I remember turning to see what the hell those almighty bangs were and seeing the silhouettes of several guys just running towards me while having these massive sparkler explosions go off right behind them! Once the big firework had been all fired off, they just casually walked back and lit up some more. I think they were more careful from then on as there were no further misfires from them!
Holy shit… this was turning into one memorable night!
We also had a lot of neighbours come over and shake our hand and wish us a happy new year. Everyone was in a happy and cheerful mood. Rather surreal given the closeness of all the fireworks being set off and the few near misses we were having.
I was given a few smaller fireworks to light up. I was not game to light the big ones. I left them for Auke!
It lasted for roughly 50 minutes and was definitely the most impressive fireworks display I had been part of.
Towards the end, I decided to race in and my camera to record some of this. I was just too awestruck during the main barrage to photograph anything!
The two fireworks in action shown above were some left over from our neighbours. These are rather small in comparison to what we experienced earlier.
By about 1am it all died down. There was still some fireworks being set off in other streets, but it was more just the occasional boom.
Wow.. what a way to start 2009!