Snap, Crackle and Pop!

Fairbanks has a big fireworks show known as the “Sparktacular” every New Year’s Eve and the start of 2019 was the 29th year this favorite holiday event has been celebrated. But the “Spartacular” wasn’t the beginning. So, when did Fairbanks have its very first fireworks show and what kinds of pyrotechnics did they have way back then?

Fairbanks Daily Times- December 29, 1912


Big Fireworks Exhibition Is to Take Place on Slough in Front of Town Tuesday Evening.


Novelty of Having Fourth of July Celebration in Mid-winter is Expected to Appeal to Many Residents.

The residents of Fairbanks will have an opportunity to witness the first, real-enough, Fourth of July exhibition of pyrotechnics that has been given in the North on Tuesday evening, December 31. The exhibition is being given under the auspices of the Fairbanks Commercial club, who ordered the fireworks from San Francisco. The erection of the set pieces and the management of the exhibition generally is in charge of Dr. M. F. Hall. He is being assisted by Sam Haddock.

It is expected that the celebration to greet the coming of the new year will be the first of a long string, as the Commercial club plans to make the event an annual one. The time that the display starts will be announced Tuesday morning. Included in the display are the following fireworks:

Opening Salute – Twenty cannon crackers.

Illumination -Twelve one-half pound bags red fire.

Rocket Display – Six three-pound fancy rockets, pearl shower and searchlight effects.

Battery Display – One willow tree battery, two electric shower mines, six prismatic fountains (set 10 feet apart) fired simultaneously.

Set Piece – Made for the occasion, six mammoth tour billions, umbrellas of colored fire, 60 feet high.

Bombshell Display – Three 13 ½ inch shells, fired from mortar, forming mammoth display.

Exhibition Piece – Two Chinese fans showing brilliant fountains, intermingled with colored gems.

Set Piece – Happy New Year, 1913, outlined in 12-inch colored letters.

Fountain Display – One special trailer battery, the most beautiful made, four 4-pound hanging chain rockets, suspending chains of colored lights in the air; two 13-inch whistling Jack of Calliope bombshells, two mammoth 8-pound cascades, throwing showers of gold and silver sparks 20 feet high; three 16-inch vertical wheels, with changing color centers.

Exhibition Piece – Two Mexican jets, each a beautiful variegated display piece; four 4-pound fancy rockets, willow tree, screamer, cascade and electric display effects; sic mammoth geysers, spirals of colored fire; three 12 ½-inch bombshells, mixed colors and designs; one union battery, filling the air with red, white and blue stars; four aerial ladders of changing colored lights; four mammoth 8-pound cascades, fountains of liquid fire with stars of red, green and sapphire; two 13 ½-inch spider bombshells, bursting into mammoth spiders; two electric batteries, each making a mammoth display of 60 to 70 feet in height; twelve mammoth 4-pound fancy rockets assorted designs of bombshells, shooting stars, bouquet of demon’s nests.

Finale -Set piece, letters say “Good Night,” outlined in brilliant lance fires.

Note: Because it was -50°F during the turn of the New Year, the big 1912 fireworks show was postponed to wait for better weather. No global warming in those days! Fortunately in early March of 1913, residents enjoyed all the amazing pyrotechnics in their full splendor out on the slough at the north end of town. And now you know the rest of the story! This firecracker of a history nugget was proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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