Defense Minister Gen. Yuthasak Sasiprapha joined Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and PTT Co. CEO Pirin Chuchothaworn in kicking off the Dec. 16-17 Pattaya Beach extravaganza that culminated the series of five fireworks contests over the past two years held to honor Their Majesties the King and Queen.
This time Thai fireworks specialists went up against teams from Australia, China, Denmark, Italy, Japan, United Arab Emirates and United States.
The festival drew tens of thousands to Pattaya, with police this year trying something new to ease traffic that crippled last year’s contest: Beach Road was closed early each day and the three major thoroughfares into the city were turned into one-way streets.
Opinions varied on how well the plan worked, depending on how long someone was stuck in gridlock. Generally, however, the most-common description the traffic was “nightmarish.”
Saturday’s finale floored those watching with a spread of seven 24-inch shells, marking the end of HM the King’s seventh cycle birthday Dec. 5. The shooting colors could be seen along the entire three-kilometer expanse of Pattaya Beach and well inland. In all, more than 10,000 shells were fired, creating a show seldom seen anywhere.
Judges and audience members agreed, however, that this year the American team triumphed over the flair of the Italians and the creativity of the Chinese inventors of fireworks. The United Arab Emirates placed second.