Cromer’s big bang

It has quickly be­come a Nor­folk New Year in­sti­tu­tion – what bet­ter way to em­brace 2018 than lin­ing the sand to watch Cromer’s spec­tac­u­lar sea­side fire­work dis­play

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

How a Millennium one-off has be­come a cal­en­dar fix­ture

SHOW­ERS of iri­des­cent light fall like wa­ter­falls from the pier; crack­ling fountains of fire burst from the waves and the sky above the shore­line is alive with a mes­meris­ing show of colour and noise, re­flect­ing mag­i­cally in the wa­ter be­low.

There can be few bet­ter ways to wave good­bye to one year and wel­come in an­other than hud­dling side by side on the beach with a hot choco­late or mulled wine in hand to watch Cromer’s an­nual New Year’s Day fire­work dis­play over the sea.

Since it be­gan 19 years ago, the event has be­come a Nor­folk must do. More than 10,000 peo­ple headed for the town last year, brav­ing the win­try con­di­tions to soak up the at­mos­phere and watch the spec­tac­u­lar dis­play on the pier.

Jim Bond, chair­man of the fire­work com­mit­tee, says the event has grown be­yond all ex­pec­ta­tions.

“It was set up as a one off to cel­e­brate the Millennium and it wasn’t on the pier, it was on the meadow. Ini­tially it was a lo­cal fire­work event for the town, but it just be­came big­ger and big­ger.

“The idea has al­ways been to bring peo­ple up to the coast for a breath of fresh air, some­thing to eat and drink, and then the fab­u­lous fire­work dis­play over the sea. In the early years, not much else in the town opened, now, lots of busi­ness open spe­cially to cater for the crowds and the cafes, fish and chip shops and pubs are al­ways heav­ing. It is great for the town and adds an­other di­men­sion to the tourist of­fer­ing – we know peo­ple who now come for a short break over New Year be­cause of the fire­works which ben­e­fits the lo­cal econ­omy hugely.”

Mulled wine is served out­side the mu­seum; tea, cof­fee, and hot soup is avail­able in the church and a num­ber of ven­dors will be pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional re­fresh­ments.

Jim says it is es­sen­tial to leave plenty of time to get to the town as traf­fic builds up and park­ing spa­ces are at a premium.

“We’re de­lighted it’s be­come such a suc­cess­ful an­nual event but come early, we don’t want any­one to miss it. Peo­ple are al­ways sur­prised about how busy it is when they come for the first time, but thou­sands of peo­ple head to the town and in­evitably the traf­fic builds up, so give your­self plenty of time.”

The com­mit­tee meets through­out the year work­ing closely with a num­ber of lo­cal agen­cies in­clud­ing the town coun­cil, fire ser­vice, po­lice, RNLI and the coast­guards.

The team be­hind the py­rotech­nics – Ti­ta­nium Fire­works – are re­spon­si­ble for the Lon­don New Year’s Eve show and they ar­rive in Cromer at 8am, ready to spend the whole day set­ting up the com­plex dis­play.

“Ob­vi­ously we never had some­one run­ning around with some matches light­ing in­di­vid­ual fuses,” laughs Jim, “but in the past two decades the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments have been huge and it has be­come in­cred­i­bly so­phis­ti­cated, which is very ex­cit­ing to watch.

“This year the team at Ti­ta­nium are look­ing to make more use of the sea­side lo­ca­tion, in­clud­ing wa­ter­borne py­rotech­nics. A lot of peo­ple in the past ask about the fire­works which ap­pear to go off in the sea it­self and say they can’t see any boats or plat­forms, but all I can say is there is a very clever el­e­ment of il­lu­sion.”

The event is free, but bucket col­lec­tors will be out in force among the crowds, which last year raised £9,000. The pro­ceeds go to a num­ber of lo­cal causes and help fund fu­ture dis­plays.

“Ev­ery­one’s aware that bud­gets are still tight, but we do ask peo­ple give as gen­er­ously as they can”, he says. “Just a few coins can make a lot of dif­fer­ence to lo­cal char­i­ties and good causes – and with­out ev­ery­one’s help we couldn’t con­tinue the an­nual dis­play.”

For the first time in its his­tory, last Jan­uary’s dis­play was post­poned for a week due to poor con­di­tions.

“As you might im­age, plan­ning a dis­play on the coast comes with cer­tain chal­lenges, some of which can be very un­pre­dictable. We def­i­nitely made the right de­ci­sion to post­pone though as the con­di­tions were aw­ful and the wind blew straight onto the shore which had real safety im­pli­ca­tions. We made the de­ci­sion on New Year’s Eve to give peo­ple plenty of no­tice and it was amaz­ing how quickly word spread once we got the news out there via so­cial me­dia and lo­cal me­dia.”

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