Boom! Flash! Sizzle! Last summer I wrote briefly about Calgary, Canada’s Globalfest, a 5 day multicultural gathering with a fireworks competition. Ruth, 4 of her cousins, and I attended the decade-old Globalfest’s final night on August 26, 2012, and the pyrotechnic display was, without doubt, the finest I have ever seen. However, getting there and away were nightmarish.
Beginning on August 10 with a Chinatown Street Festival followed by a five-day Human Rights Forum, 2013’s Globalfest will have 5 nights of fireworks. Tickets are now available at globalfest.ca.
In 2012 Team United States, the 4th and last to perform, was named winner for its “Pops in the Park” display. The other countries to perform were Brazil, Philippines, China, and Mexico. The U.S.’s show was praised for its clever blend of music (Katy Perry, etc.) and fireworks. Sunday night’s awesomely 5 Compass finale, “Eclipse”, the only display we saw, was created by Patrick Braul who was responsible for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics fireworks.
However, our party of 6 arrived in the general area of Elliston Park, Globalfest’s repeat venue, around 6:30 for a show that wouldn’t begin until approximately 9. The instructions that accompanied our tickets clearly stated, THERE IS NO PARKING AVAILABLE AT ELLISTON PARK. We were sent a list of options that included street & business lot parking (for a fee) and a shuttle service. I was driving. We couldn’t get anywhere near Elliston. Stern authority figures waved me away when I slowed to ask for advice. In desperation, I finally dropped the 5 others several blocks from the park and sought the distant, unfamiliar shopping center with shuttles.
Arriving at 8 pm, I was in no mood for the One World Village that promised high energy cultural performances and a night market with vendors selling international arts & crafts and authentic food & drink from 12 cultures–Ukrainian, Caribbean, etc. I was more focused on finding Ruth and her cousins among 22,000 people and locating a decent place to see the fireworks than on what looked like carnival trinkets and typical fest-wagon food as I passed.
After the announcement of the competition winner and long introductions of practically everyone involved in Globalfest, the thrilling fireworks commenced, making all of the aggravation kind of worthwhile. However, after they ended 22,000 people, most of whom had taken shuttles, headed for the exit where they were lined up. Quickly filled, busses eased away from a steadily growing crowd that had no option but to wait a very long time for them to return. Shoving commenced. Fights broke out. It was finally decided that I would go after our vehicle and return to pick up the others, which meant that I had to negotiate unfamiliar residential streets in the dark and somehow find 5 tired adults amid mass confusion. Long story short, we finally made it to our overnight accommodation at 12:30. Globalfest crowd handling? Barely 2 compass.
I didn’t give it a one for 2 reasons: firework displays as glittery and thunderous as Globalfest’s need plenty of space and a reflective body of water not used for drinking. Built atop landfill, Elliston Park’s lake qualifies. Secondly, we were innocent first-timers, not veteran festival attendees.
Would I go again? Make that when I go again.