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13 September 2002

On 6, 7, & 8th September Southport was treated to yet more exciting entertainment. People flooded in from areas as far away as North Wales and the Midlands to witness the events.

The evenings began with “Water Sports Spectacular", very skilful displays on the Marine Lake by the Southport Water Ski Club, who performed such feats as ‘shoe skiing and jumping whilst kneeling on their boards as well as other intricate manoeuvres involving crossing tow ropes! It all looked quite challenging but all the participants acquitted themselves well. The youngest members of the team were Samantha Halsall and Andrew (only 9 years old) who also performed with panache.

That was followed by two intriguing laser light shows by the nationally renowned ‘Laser Hire’ who were making their first appearance in Southport. They involved messages, geometric patterns and a variety of figures such as a Dolphin cast onto a cascade or bounced around the lake. All this to the accompaniment of pleasant music. These shows were really well worth seeing in their own right.

Those foregoing events set the scene for the prime purpose of the evenings; the spectacular Firework Championship sponsored by the Champion Newspaper, Dowhigh Southport Pleasureland, McMillan and Radio Merseyside. 

Six companies vied for the prestigious title, trophy and prize money (£3,000). Each display lasted between 15 and 20 minutes and would have cost between £10-£20,000 we were told and at least 10% of that cost would be in the final few minutes. Many of the 6 participants were new comers to the Southport competition.
On each night 2 teams strove to thrill the public, and all achieved that aim despite Nature’s attempt at dampening the procedure with a mighty deluge on the Saturday night. Especial congratulations and commiserations to the Saturday teams for managing to continue in such adverse conditions!

Every evening the Lakeside resounded with mighty thuds and booms and crackles. Myriad rockets scarified the sky and colourful bursts of stars, zigzags and cascades enveloped the darkness in intricate patterns. There were some very imaginative interpretations including a magnificent ‘Titanic’ noising over a glittering sea to the accompaniment of the now famous theme tune.

The musical contributions were equally varied and enjoyable, ranging from pop and film music to the stirring classics of Grieg, Elgar and the like. The ingenuity of the competitors and the choreography of their displays to their chosen music were amazing.
The throngs around the lake were most appreciative with plenty of “oo’s” and “ah’s” and “wows” and lusty clapping, even in the Saturday downpour.

The Judges were 3 technical experts and 3 lay persons including the stalwart Southport supporter Jean Alexander (ex Hilda Ogden of Coronation Street). They must have had a very difficult time in reaching a decision because of the high standards of all the entries. Their decision was based upon wide ranging criteria including Artistic merit, Technical merit, Variety and overall Effect including having to take into account the prevailing conditions.

The winner was ‘Spit Fire’ from Nuneaton, founded in 1988, giving their first performance at Southport. They had devised their own electronic firing sequence equipment, which they used to obvious good effect. Many congratulations to them and to their support team. Also hearty congratulations to all involved in presenting this delightfully exciting artistic event (commentators, support staff, crowd controllers, and technicians to name but a few. To Sefton Council who did a magnificent job altogether with Southport Arts Centre Staff. Thanks also to those agencies such as St John’s and the Police who so ably supported this event bringing us 3 safe and memorable evenings of enjoyment. 

What’s next in store for us? Keep watching this space for details of forthcoming events in this area. 
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Photographs by Patrick Trollope.

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