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Captian John Smith, Jamestown and the First Fireworks Show

January 18, 2017

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You may be aware of the ancient legend that fireworks are thought to have originated with the Chinese as a way to ward off Nian, a lion-like monster with an appetite for innocent and unsuspecting villagers. From the humble beginnings of bamboo rods exploding in fires to ward off monsters to the intricate displays of today’s pyrotechnics for celebrating a multitude of events, the history of fireworks spans centuries and continents.

The European Craze
When did the skies of this country first light up with the exciting displays of color? First we must back track a little to the old world. By the time of the Renaissance, Europeans were using fireworks to entertain and mark auspicious occasions. Rulers would have displays to light up their castles for weddings, coronations, and other important occasions.

There were firework artists who received training at pyrotechnic schools all over Europe. At this time, the beautifully colored displays we enjoy today had not yet been created. Early firework shows consisted of loud booming noises, bright flashes of orange and wispy traces of golden light. We would consider the fireworks from that time dull and boring by comparison. However, during that time they were just as exciting to those early viewers as they are today.

Back then firework shows would last much longer than the 20 or 30 minutes we have to enjoy them now. They would often last well over an hour. In fact, history accounts cite Czar Peter the Great of Russia as having one of the longest pyrotechnic shows every recorded. He was so thrilled at the birth of his son he commissioned a five-hour extravaganza to commemorate the event.

Establishing A New World
Fireworks were very popular in European circles so it only made sense that they would show up on the shores of the New World. The first permanent English Settlement in the New World was in Jamestown, Virginia. When British settlers initially came to the area it was part of the country of Tsenacommacah, ruled by the Paspahegh tribe of Native Americans. This was part of the Powhatan Confederacy. When foreigners came to what was to be Jamestown, they had no idea what the environment to would be like.

The colonists who arrived upon the shores of the New World in 1607 were clueless about agriculture and so survival was an issue. Fortunately, at that time the people of the Paspahegh tribe were friendly and offered provisions to the newcomers. Nevertheless, this proved to be the worst possible time to come to this area. Drought and famine nearly devastated the colony.

Captain John Smith, an Admiral of New England was instrumental in the establishment of Jamestown as a permanent settlement. Through his determination and planning, the colony was saved from complete devastation. Legend has it that Smith was the first person to set off fireworks on American soil. This supposedly happened in 1608. It isn’t clear whether he set them off to entertain or frighten the Native Americans. Either way, he apparently started a trend that has lasted for centuries.

Today’s firework displays are marvels of ancient invention and modern technology. Small private celebrations can be as exciting and riveting as public displays and Alamo Fireworks has just what you need for both.  Be sure to check out our wholesale fireworks. Get your fireworks by the case. Make 2017 the year of “illuminating” celebrations with fireworks from Alamo Fireworks. We have stands and stores in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Laredo and Victoria. Fully stocked and ready to light up your world, we’ll make your display fantastic.