The first Fireworks & Fountains show at Longwood Gardens, in 1980, was simple by today’s standards.
As Longwood Gardens’ Fireworks & Fountains display nears, P.S. Dupont fellow Colvin Randall remembers three decades of dazzling tradition.
“The Fireworks & Fountains shows began in 1980, inspired mainly by similar shows that I and another staff member had seen at Versailles in the fall of 1979. Of course, fireworks had been used for several hundred years in European gardens to impress upon the world how magnificent a monarch was; we chose to do it just because it’s so over-the-top and fun.”
“On June 14, the first Fireworks & Fountains show at Longwood was presented in the Main Fountain Garden. I think we sent press releases to only one or two local papers because we didn’t know how many people would show up, but 3,000 were in attendance that night. During the first years, tickets did not have to be purchased in advance, and some evenings we had dozens of visitors who couldn’t get in—the traffic was jammed up Route 1. Since there hadn’t been fireworks at Longwood for half a century, everyone was dazzled by the effect.”
“The original display was very simple compared to what we do now, but because it added a totally new dimension in conjunction with the fountains, visitors and staff were quite enthusiastic. We’ve done more than 150 fireworks shows at Longwood since the debut, and I’m always amazed at how regulars say that each year was the best ever.” This season’s shows, with titles such as Rocket Man: Music of Elton John and Celebrate America, run through September 14 at Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000