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Evening Gala
Special> 60th Anniversary of The People's Republic of China> A Snapshot of National Day Celebration 2009> Evening Gala
UPDATED: October-2-2009 Web Exclusive
A Sea of Smiling Faces
The evening gala brings the National Day celebrations to a climax

As the crowds oohed and aahed at the dazzling fireworks display at Tiananmen Square on the night of October 1, a smile appeared on Mother Nature's face: The new generation of "green" fireworks was quietly making its way toward Beijing's moonlit sky.

The environmentally-friendly fireworks created "less smoke, and no debris or smells", meeting the standard of the stunning fireworks at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games last summer, said Zhao Weiping, President of Panda Fireworks, which was responsible for the fireworks supplies.

The fireworks display at the 40-hectare Tiananmen Square, which sits in the very heart of Beijing, is a highlight of the National Day celebrations, especially this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. According to the Chinese calendar, the 60th anniversary is very significant because the number 60 represents one complete cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar.

This year, yellow-colored fireworks in the shape of the number 60 exploded over Tiananmen Square; doves of peace and happy-face fireworks came into view, lighting up the sky over the square and neighboring areas along Chang'an Avenue. This was also the first year that the fireworks were accompanied by background music. With the help of reflections from the "Light Cube"--4,028 LED tree-shaped lighting props on the ground controlled by performers--rivers and mountains, children's drawings and Qinghai-Tibet Railways appeared in 3D fireworks paintings, which were 90 meters long and 25 meters wide, the largest of their kind in the world.

The 33-minute spectacular show, designed by Cai Guo-Qiang, the pyrotechnist behind the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony, used 300,000 shells, double the number used last August. Besides the main site in Tiananmen Square, fireworks were ignited at 99 sites across the capital's 16 districts and counties.

According to Zhao Weiping, the new technology uses compressed air to propel fireworks into the sky, with computers determining how much air to pump into the launch tube, creating enough pressure to shoot each shell into the air. No wonder nearly 60,000 gala performers, ranging from 6 years old to over 70, and tens of thousands of spectators from home and abroad could enjoy the fireworks without any health concerns.

"The fireworks were stunning. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to dance here on the National Day," Zhang Enhao, a grade-seven student from Beijing Jingshan School, told Beijing Review. "I watched the military parade on TV this morning, which was impressive. I'm happy that my peers and I can bring more joy to the celebration."

Dr. Michael Schaefer, German ambassador to China described the gala as "a color of feast."

The fireworks display was part of the evening gala of the National Day celebrations, coupled with conventional singing and dancing performances. The 100-minute gala, which consisted of a prelude and four parts, began at 8 p.m. Beijing time with the prelude My Motherland, and ended with top state leaders including President Hu Jintao dancing hand in hand with performers.

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