There are several types of fireworks in the world, those made by man and those made by nature. Recently, we’ve had both. Man made fireworks, aka pyrotechnics, have been around since the 7th century, being first recorded in China. Having invented them, the Chinese started the practice of using fireworks to add that special extra touch to any celebration. This custom finally made it’s way around the globe to the USA. To this day, China is the largest manufacturer of fireworks in the world. There are now firework competitions and clubs throughout the world.
Basin wide, Lake Tahoe holds quite a few fireworks (man made) displays throughout the year, most notably for July 4th and Labor Day. Lake Tahoe says it has the largest firework display west of the Mississippi. I have no idea if that’s true but it is definitely HUGE! The fun of watching the fireworks in Lake Tahoe is the fact that you can watch several at a time. If you’re watching the south shore display, you can see the show from Tahoe City behind it and across the lake. Where else can you get that experience?
Fireworks have gotten so dialed in that the types of effects have names, Peony, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Willow, Ground bloom flower, Palm, Diadem, Crossette, Kamuro, Horsetail, and of course, the ubiquitous Happy Face at the end, technically known as a Ring.
We’re coming up on the Labor Day weekend and of course, we will have a fireworks display. There are a couple of differences from the July 4th exhibit. This weekend’s show starts a bit earlier, at 8:30 pm, and the show is held on Sunday night, instead of the holiday. This is to make sure all those visiting Lake Tahoe for the weekend get to see it before they leave on Monday. It’s also good for the working locals.
Nature’s brand of fireworks is not even remotely as predictable. This exhibit is usually lightening, which Lake Tahoe had in abundance last week. It’s fabulous to watch but it can be deadly on a variety of levels. Last week nature’s fireworks set off actual fires when it struck ground, or actually trees. Fortunately, the fires were small and easy to contain. Lake Tahoe is so intimate that we can usually see these fires but last week there was so much smoke from the Rim Fire it just got lost in the mass.
While the cause of the Rim Fire is not known, maybe lightening, maybe not, it certainly is producing it’s own form of fireworks. The Rim is now approaching the 5th largest fire in the history of California and will probably surpass that as it is only 32% contained at this writing. Having burned over 200,000 acres, it is enormously destructive. It’s a curious circle that this fire, which may have been caused by weather in the form of lightening, has grown to the point where it is creating it’s own weather. The smoke is moving north into Tahoe so last week the smoke joined with the rain clouds and created Pyro Nimbus clouds. Fascinating colors, red, mauve and purple.