For first time in nearly three decades, no New Year’s fireworks at the Space Needle

Lights shine from the Space Needle, celebrating the new decade a few minutes after midnight in this view from Kerry Park in Seattle on Jan. 1, 2020. (Andy Bao / The Seattle Times)
Published: January 1, 2020
From: Seattle Times
By: Katherine Khashimova Long and Paige Cornwall
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The year 2020 emerged without a bang in Seattle, where high winds forced cancellation of the New Year’s Eve fireworks show at the Space Needle for the first time in nearly three decades.

The fireworks were scheduled to go off at midnight as 2020 began, but organizers in Seattle said gusts up to 44 mph led them to first push back and then cancel the show.

“We learned some things about the unpredictability of high winds this year and we will use that information to see if we can create show options in future years that will be less reliant on favorable weather conditions,” said Space Needle spokesman Dave Mandapat in a Wednesday statement.

The show was initially delayed to 2 a.m., if winds eased. There was also talk earlier Tuesday of a possible make-up show Wednesday night, but that idea was scrapped.

Some of the fireworks in the show are intended to launch several hundred feet above the Space Needle. In high winds, it’s hard to ensure that debris from those explosions doesn’t hit revelers, fireworks technician Ian Gilfillan said Wednesday afternoon. Gilfillan owns PyroSpectaculars, the company behind the Needle’s New Year’s Eve pyrotechnics.

No taxpayer money goes toward the fireworks show, Mandapat said. The Space Needle is a private entity, separate from the city-operated Seattle Center. T-Mobile pays part of the cost of the annual display.

The Space Needle reimburses the city for some expenses associated with the fireworks, including police and fire department staffing.

For those looking forward to the spectacle, Tuesday was a wait-and-see day.

As colorful displays lit up the sky in time zone after time zone around the world, organizers in Seattle warned that wind gusts could mean the show would be delayed. The Seattle Fire Department’s fire marshal, pyrotechnicians and event organizers monitored wind conditions. But winds picked up Tuesday night.

The countdown to the stroke of midnight led to a laser show, as officials determined that was all they could safely allow. Music blared, and pulsing, colored lights streaked up and down the Space Needle and into the sky.

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