The Economics of Fireworks

Happy New Year

Aruba enjoyed a spectacular night with big firework shows everywhere.

The last one at 4am in my neighborhood, practically over my bed.

In the morning, the house was covered with a blanket of shredded bit of brown paper, then it rained, and the porous craft material turned to paste.

Ahhhh, the joys of NYE!  

The joys of cleanup.

Ok, the morning after is not that great, but the party was fantastic!

Again, Caribbean Fireworks was the big winner, I tried to talk to the company’s chief fireworks detonator, but he was sleepy, having blown up my street at dawn.

I didn’t sleep in two days, he said to me, missing out on a nice PR opportunity, to tout his own horn in my ears.

From what I gathered from friends, the fastest, easiest way to burn through your hard-earned cash is, you guessed, putting on a firework show.

A proposal circulated among the hotels and the island’s large businesses for an 8, 10- or 12-minute show, and just to give you an idea, the average minute according to my unconfirmed sources costs about $4,000 to 5,000, depending on the size of the shells.

You hand Caribbean Fireworks a budget and they do it all. Whatever there is to do, barge on the water as a launch pad, insurance, computer firing sequence, intermittent big bangs, and small bangs, all nicely orchestrated pyrotechnics, to light up the night sky.

I was in a crowd, standing on the beach at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, and the show unfolded in front of our eyes. It was very artistic and colorful, with shooting comets and bursting stars, flowers and cascading fountains of light, a marriage of art and science, warding off evil spirits, ushering in health and prosperity.

Gotta burn money to make money.

Then and today, the Chinese are responsible for all that artillery, designing, packing and shipping the shells, enjoyed at festivities all over the globe, since the 7th century.

 The pagaras? The million shell ones? Their price tag is about $1,500 to $2,000.

The Oranjestad merchants blew a great number of those up yesterday. We watched as Zara and later Renaissance helped ring in the new year.

Is this the last year for the downtown pagara, I asked? Will Renaissance follow in the footsteps of the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino and give up this noisy tradition in favor of a more environmentally responsible footprint?

No, said the General Manager, we will continue to blow up a pagara, every year, for as long as I am around. It’s a valued tradition.

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January 01, 2019
Rona Coster