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Fireworks Of The Future To Dazzle Even More

The sky's the limit when it comes to fireworks.

They will keep getting better and bigger and more spectacular, as long as there are chemists concocting new compounds, offshore manufacturers making affordable products and software developers coming out with the programs.

So says Bill Raynault, president of the Canadian Fireworks Association, which held its annual convention in Hamilton over the weekend. It began with a bang Friday night with about 90 minutes of brilliant displays by some of the conference delegates anxious to show off their products.

And it continued Saturday with seminars on such topics as choreography, municipal fireworks bylaws and the federal government's Explosive Regulatory Division.

About 55 delegates from across Canada met to discuss developments in an industry that's estimated at $300 million in Canada and nearly $1 billion in the United States.

Raynault, who is the western sales representative for Mystical Fireworks, said the industry suffers only slightly during economic down times, including the most recent recession.

"People need to feel good," he says. "They still drink alcohol, they still go to movies, they still buy fireworks.

"They just don't buy as much. But we didn't suffer as much as other industries."

The numbers seem to bear out that observation -- the American Pyrotechnics Association reports that about 14,000 displays lit up the U.S. skies last 4th July.

And in 2008, 213.2 million pounds of fireworks were set off, about one-eighth in displays and the rest by consumers.

Raynault says pyrotechnics technology has gone through the roof with new chemical compositions that produce new colours and special effects.

Simulation and choreography software that used to cost $5,000 to $10,000 is now "ridiculously affordable" in the low hundreds of dollars, he says.

Raynault says fireworks may look like so much money going up in smoke but are economically beneficial because they draw people in.

He claims Walt Disney World once stopped its famous nightly fireworks extravaganza for a period of time and believes they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue a day.

The promise of a fireworks display at the end of the day "keeps people around for the full event," he says.

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