Lured by a balmy night, an almost full moon and the promise of the biggest fireworks display Savannah has ever seen, thousands lined the riverfront Friday night and looked skyward.
By the end of the 17-minute, nearly 3,000 shell show, many were satisfied that promise had been fulfilled.
"At the beginning I was kind of concerned," said Shamoin Parks, who came from Atlanta to start her fall with fireworks. "But at the end it came through."
Falcon Fireworks of Guyton was the local host for the 300-member convention of the American Pyrotechnics Association, which wrapped up its week in Savannah on Friday. Owner Brent Fisher provided his time and expertise for the fireworks extravaganza. He and several suppliers donated the actual shells, many of which were hand-made in the United States.
Reluctant to estimate the value of the show, he nonetheless said he wouldn't repeat it for less than $100,000. By comparison, he was paid about a quarter of that for the Fourth of July fireworks this year.
Falcon Fireworks regularly lights up the Savannah skies with shows after the Sand Gnats games and on River Street. There was extra pressure Friday on Fisher as his colleagues in the industry looked on.
"It's being judged by a jury of your peers," he said.
The fireworks were also a benefit for two organ donation charities, the national Nicholas Green Foundation and the statewide Donate Life Georgia. Volunteers collected donations from the crowds, and riverfront businesses pledged portions of their Friday night receipts to the charities. The fireworks display is a tradition for the last night of the APA conference, but this was the first time the group used the event to raise money.
Fisher made sure the fireworks themselves gave a nod to the chosen charities, whose symbol is a green ribbon. He included fireworks that exploded into a green ribbon pattern and others that resembled green Chinese lanterns, and isolated them to appear in an otherwise dark sky.
The pyromusical, as Fisher calls it, was timed to classical and rock music, including "Born to Be Wild" and "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," simulcast on Cumulus Station I-95 (WIXV 95.5 FM).
Friday's finale was so intense it made the water light up and chests thump. There was good reason for that, Fisher said.
"The number of shells just in the finale of this show is about the same number as in the whole Fourth of July show," he said.