The Grand Arcade Fireworks 2006


Today I went to check out the Grand Arcade Fireworks and Thurston Family Fun Fair in Cambridge’s Midsummer common celebrating Guy Fawkes’ Day. The holiday commemorates the foiling of the Gun Powder plot to set off explosives in parliament and often includes fireworks and bonfires where effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned at the stake.

In addition to the excitement of fireworks (we got to be really close to the launching point), the fair was a pleasant surprise. It was similar to a US county fair without the fried twinkies and farm animals.

A view of the fair from the snack stand, as Steffen (right) blinks.

The event was quite a sight, with lots of bright lights, music, and walking on the grass. Wait, is this really Cambridge?

Much to my amusement the carnival rides seem to be decorated with American comic book and entertainment figures. The “Daredevil” ride, for example bolstered its images of Daredevil (the comic hero) with X-men and possibly Neo from The Matrix.

The “Terminator,” on the other hand, didn’t have any images of Arnold Schwarzenegger, though it did bring up a few jokes about the California gubernatorial election.

A little known fact: Guy Fawkes was an alien. Why else would they have this guy propped up?

(The alien is actually promoting one of the alien-themed rides.)

There were stands selling sausages (definitely different from the hot dogs I’m used to) and chips. I also scarfed down a couple bags of cotton candy, thus officially taking part in the festivities.

Here Steffen and Julijana watch people ride the “Daredevil.”

I also made a new friend playing a carnival game. I’ve named him Guy Dawgs.

Something that did catch my eye as being different were the blatant money traps. Sure, carnival games with big prizes are usually weighted in some initially unseen way against the player… but there were whole tents of what are essentially ten pence gambling machines:

The idea is that by dropping ten pence coins in, one can slowly push the other coins (and associated goodies) off the ledge and into a compartment where the player can pick them up. One can find similar machines in Chuck E. Cheese’s where kids can play to win arcade game tokens. The carnival trick here is that the heavy objects placed on the coins (bags of coins, cell phones, lollipops) are actually a hindrance. (Think about it.)

There was also a small dodgem car (bumper car) stage, where one driver was having quite a good time with his passenger:

Long before Harry Potter this was a nation that was home to a bear named Paddington.

And, of course, there were fireworks:

Some artsy photos from my neighbor, Anna:

And the obligatory Guy Fawkes bonfire:

Finally, one more video of the fireworks finale:

There’s something special about watching fireworks in person and being able to hear (and sometimes feel) the explosions. It’s always neat how the crowd falls into a hushed awe, punctuated by the occasional “ooh” or “it’s shaped like a heart!” It was neat to take a moment to face away from the fireworks to see lots of faced illumiated by the flashes in the sky, children perched atop parent’s shoulders, and a sea of cell phones recording their own little videos to be sent to friends with messages of “wish you were here.” (To all my friends who weren’t there: I wished you were there!)


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